A year ago, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron used the national championship game to make his name known to college football fans everywhere.
Monday night, another unheralded quarterback hopes to take advantage of that same stage.
After developing faster than a Polaroid picture, Notre Dame's Everett Golson believes he is ready for the spotlight.
“I don't make any moment bigger than what it is,” said Golson.
“He's got enough seasoning. I would be very, very surprised if he can't handle the moment,“ said coach Brian Kelly.
The moment has come for Everett Golson. Monday night, the redshirt freshman from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina leads his team into college football's national championship game. And coincidentally, the last time, Notre Dame played in this big a game, they also had a quarterback who hailed from the Palmetto state.
“That is a great feat and with him having the heart and being from South Carolina we want to make things happen,” said former Irish quarterback Tony Rice.
“We're going to have to find some big chunk plays,” said coach Brian Kelly. “He's going have to be integral in that. He knows that and we know that. I think Alabama knows that, too. He's got to be a guy this creates some plays for us at the quarterback position.
That kind of talk might be seen as putting pressure on the youngster who just turned 19 on Wednesday, but Golson knows he doesn't have to do this alone.
“I think I am very confident, not only with myself with my supporting cast of my teammates. You talk about the team this year. We have always been kind of set as the underdo,” said Golson. “Going into it nobody would have ever saw us at this point but we worked our way up from the bottom and that just shows great resilience from us and great unity from us.
But Golson has shown resilience all year, bouncing back from adversity in games like Oklahoma and Pitt, to lead the Irish to wins. It's one of the traits that has built not only his confidence, but the confidence of those around him.
“To me it’s about making the best play between the hundred yard lines,” said Golson. “It’s not necessarily what is going on around me. At the end of the day it’s about January 7th playing Alabama.”
“The confidence level and the trust builds and builds and builds,” said Kelly. “I think that's why I'm confident that the moment won't be too big for him, because he knows that we've got 100% confidence and trust in him that he can go in and win us a National Championship.
But it should be emphasized that Golson does not have to win this himself. Last year, when Alabama beat LSU for the title, a.j. McCarron was 23 of 34 for 234 yards. It's a good day, but not great.
The key was that McCarron threw no interceptions. So, as it has been throughout the season, Monday night may not be as much about the big plays Everett Golson makes, but the bad plays he doesn't make.