MIAMI — ESPN officials were hoping Monday night's BCS championship pairing of storied powers Alabama and Notre Dame could produce record ratings, but the Crimson Tide's blowout didn't help.
Alabama's 21-0 whipping of LSU in last year's championship game drew a 14.0 rating, which was the third-lowest for a championship pairing since the BCS era began in 1998. Auburn's win over Oregon after the 2010 season drew a 15.3 rating.
The record BCS title rating of 21.7 was set when Texas upset Southern Cal 41-38 after the 2005 season.
"It was not a very compelling game on the field last year and it did a 14, so I'm encouraged about that," ESPN senior vice president Burke Magnus said before kickoff. "I'm not in the prediction business, but I would love to see a number that starts with a 2."
The ratings for Monday's game should be known later today. Magnus said research shows the maximum number of viewers occur around 11 p.m. Eastern, when many from the West Coast join.
"People in the Castern time zone are making life decisions at 11 o'clock," he said. "If it's a game, they are staying up. If it's not a game, they are probably going to bed, so we try to give them that decision to make around the start of the fourth quarter."
At 11, the game reached the fourth quarter with the Crimson Tide leading 35-7.
Quarterback AJ McCarron became Alabama's career leader in touchdown passes when he hit Amari Cooper for a 34-yard score midway through the third quarter that put the Tide up 35-7.
That gave McCarron 48 career scores, breaking the mark of John Parker Wilson. The redshirt junior from Mobile, who announced last month that he was returning for his final season, added a 49th with 11:27 remaining by connecting with Cooper for 19 yards.
McCarron had first-half touchdown tosses to tight end Michael Williams and tailback Eddie Lacy covering 3 and 11 yards.
On the other hand
While Notre Dame went from being unranked in the preseason to No. 1 entering Monday night, Southern Cal did just the opposite. The Trojans were No. 1 in August but went 7-6, culminating their disappointing year with a 21-7 loss to seven-loss Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is entering his fourth season at USC on the hot seat.
"It's going to be tough on his part, but not on our part," said Trojans receiver Marqise Lee, who won the Biletnikoff Award and attended Monday's game. "We know for now that he's staying, and we've just got to continue to work in practice. He's the one who's got to worry about the headlines.
"That's not our problem. Our main focus is make sure what we're supposed to do so he can keep his job."
Alabama wound up outscoring foes 358-61 in first halves this season. ... With seven minutes remaining in a 42-14 game, All-America center Barrett Jones shoved McCarron after the two started arguing after the Tide had to burn a timeout. ... Alabama's victory capped a 6-3 bowl season for the SEC, which is 53-30 in bowls since the 2003 postseason.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...