Television replays show the ball was already loose. Instead of having the ball inside Alabama's 15 yard-line with a chance to tie the game, Alabama had the ball at their 39-yard line and would march down the field to take a 14-0 lead.
Notre Dame never recovered and Alabama was never seriously challenged after that. Exactly what couldn't happen if the Irish were to have a chance had happened.
One play into the second quarter and Alabama led 21-0. It got so bad early for Notre Dame that Kelly decided to decided to go for it on fourth and 5 from midfield. There was 13:30 left in the second quarter at that point. That decision also failed.
Alabama was just clearly better than Notre Dame, adding another national title notch for the SEC conference, which now boasts the past seven national champions. It wasn't even close and prompted chants of "SEC," from the Bama fans with two minutes remaining in the game. Many of the Irish fans, however weren't around to hear it, having already seen enough.
Notre Dame lost because a defense that at one point in the season went 17 consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown, gave up three in the first 15:04 Monday night.
They lost because a defense that gave up just two rushing touchdowns in its previous 12 games, yielded three in the first half alone.
They lost because a defense that held nine teams to fewer than 300 total yards this year was gashed for 309 in just two quarters.
They lost because AJ McCarron is a more mature, more experienced quarterback than freshman Everett Golson who didn't necessarily play poorly for the Irish, but just couldn't make a big play when he needed it.
They lost because they were overmatched at every position on the field, yes, even middle linebacker.