The college football championship game that everyone wanted to see is set. The Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the BCS title game. Alabama punched its ticket with a 32-28 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Notre Dame finished their season one week earlier with a victory over Southern Cal.
The Irish will go into the game sporting their first undefeated record since 1988. Notre Dame is 12-0 with victories over USC, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Stanford. Going into the 2012 season, the Irish were unranked, so going undefeated was a must if they wanted to have any chance of playing for the national championship.
Alabama is 12-1, with their only loss coming to Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide has beaten Louisiana State, Georgia and Michigan. Alabama began the year as the defending national champions and were expected to be in the championship game. The only question was whether they would be ranked number one or two.
Notre Dame and Alabama are two of the most storied college football programs in the country. The Irish boast 13 national championships and seven Heisman Trophy winners. Despite not having a Heisman winner since 1987 and no national championship since 1988, Notre Dame still has a strong national following. They have a television contract with NBC, which broadcasts all of their home games. The Irish are one of the few programs that have not aligned with a major conference, though they will play five games against Atlantic Coast Conference schools in 2015.
Though Alabama could not boast its first Heisman winner until 2009 when Mark Ingram won the award, they have won their share of national championships with 12. The legendary Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant won one as a player and six as head coach. He was a member of the 1934 Tide team which went out to Pasadena, California and won the Rose Bowl. Alabama has won two of the last three national championships.
Over the next month, we will hear more about the history and lore of Alabama and Notre Dame football. The names of Bryant, Joe Namath, Gene Stallings and Barry Krauss will come up when people mention the Tide. Fighting Irish supporters will counter with Knute Rockne, George Gipp, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz. For people who have no idea of the history of these two programs, they are worth reading up on.
The last time Alabama and Notre Dame faced each other with the national championship on the line was in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. Bryant coached the Tide and Parseghian the Irish. Notre Dame won one of the greatest games in college football history 24-23. There is a pretty good chance that it will be shown on ESPN Classic between now and January 7.
The 1973 Sugar Bowl is a part of Notre Dame, Alabama and college football history. Fans of the game expect the 2012 BCS championship to take its place alongside it in football lore.
It is the matchup that everyone wanted and, thankfully, will get.