MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Nick Saban will be returning to the city he so infamously said he wouldn’t be leaving to coach the Alabama Crimson Tide, coincidentally enough as the head coach of the Crimson Tide.
Saban’s Tide will be coming to Miami to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the final game of the college football season, the Bowl Championship Series National Championship game on January 7.
While Notre Dame will come into the game ranked number one in the country, the Fighting Irish are likely to be the underdogs to the Crimson Tide. Alabama will be playing for an unprecedented third national championship in four years in the game.
The Crimson Tide is used to the big stage based on their recent history. Meanwhile, Notre Dame hasn’t been on the national championship scene for more than a decade. The Fighting Irish will be seeking their first national championship since 1988.
When it comes to coaching, there’s almost no one better than Saban. He’s consistently had his Crimson Tide team at or near the top of the rankings since 2007 and each team seems to best the previous one under the mercurial head coach.
In some ways, both teams got to the BCS Championship game the same way, with great defense.
Notre Dame and Alabama are ranked 1-2 in scoring defense in the country with each team allowing 10.3 and 10.7 points per game respectively. Both teams are ranked in the top five rushing defenses, with Alabama only giving up 79.8 yards per game on the ground, according to cfbstats.com.
The Crimson Tide has an advantage in pass defense, giving up only 166.2 yards per game, good for sixth in the country. Notre Dame allows 194.4 yards per game, which ranks them 21st in the country.
What will end up deciding the game will be Notre Dame’s front seven versus Alabama’s massive, pro-ready offensive line.
In the SEC Championship game, the Alabama offensive line came out in the second half and manhandled a very stout Georgia defensive line. Alabama ran the ball, almost at will, against Georgia totaling 51 rushes for 350 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Notre Dame hasn’t faced a team as well coached or as talented as Alabama. The Fighting Irish’s toughest test this season was on the road against Oklahoma, which the team won 30-13. The only common opponent between the two teams was the Michigan Wolverines.
Against Michigan, Notre Dame eeked out a 13-6 victory in South Bend. Alabama played Michigan in the opening game of the season and wiped the mat with the Wolverines in Atlanta, 41-14.
Overall, Alabama has claimed 14 national championships since the school began playing football in 1892. Alabama has a 34-22-3 overall record in postseason bowls.