Notre Dame's big advantage

Louis Nix is scary.

Some nights, he slaps on a "Saw" mask, goes out on the Notre Dame campus, jumps out from behind bushes and scares students. When a 330-pound nose guard leaps out at you, your pancreas tends to leap out of you. One poor girl cried. "I've had campus police called on me," Nix admits.

Which is weird, since Nix loves nothing more than to laugh.

One Halloween, he dressed as Jesus Christ, and as he walked around he'd freeze every 20 feet or so into a Touchdown Jesus pose.

The question is, can he save Notre Dame?

Louis Nix is a monster.

He could be a monstrous problem for 10-point favorite Alabama in this BCS title game on Jan. 7 in Miami. He's the size of a British phone booth, with the feet of a flamenco dancer, and the hands of a silversmith. He was as movable as the Lincoln Memorial during huge Irish fourth-quarter goal-line stands against both Stanford and USC this season.

He'll be up against Crimson Tide All-Galaxy center Barrett Jones. If Jones can handle Nix, Alabama can run to its third BCS title in the past four seasons. If Nix can handle Jones, Notre Dame can become the first team to go from unranked to national champs since BYU in 1984.

Of course, most people think Jones and Alabama will win, because most people think any SEC team could beat anybody, up to and including the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

"I don't listen to the SEC hype," says Nix. "I could've been an SEC player. All those schools recruited me. I've got friends who play in the SEC. They tell me it's about like it is here, except they say they don't do much school stuff at all. I tell him, 'Man, this [expletive] at Notre Dame ain't no joke.'"

To read the rest of Rick Reilly's story, click here.