MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The college football season will come to an end in a little less than two weeks in South Florida when the Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Bowl Championship Series National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium.
The matchup will feature two of the most storied programs in all of college football. Alabama claims a total of 14 national championships while Notre Dame claims eleven. The combined 25 national championships are the most of any two teams in a BCS championship in recent memory.
Alabama regularly plays in front of more than 100,000 fans on a field named for the iconic Paul “Bear” Bryant, who is still viewed as an almost god-like figure in the state. Notre Dame plays in legendary South Bend under the watchful outstretched arms of “Touchdown Jesus.”
But while both have rich histories and legacies, Alabama has been on the national championship stage consistently in recent years, while Notre Dame is reemerging in the championship scene for the first time since the late 1980’s.
Alabama has won two of the last three national championships, the only other one going to in-state rival Auburn in 2010. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has never played in the BCS National Championship game since the BCS began in 1998.
Notre Dame will also be looking to end the dominance of the Southeastern Conference which has won the last six BCS championships in a row and seven of the last nine dating back to 2004.
Still, the two teams are almost mirror images of each other. Both squads will try to run the ball behind imposing offensive lines and rely on stellar defensive play to keep the game close.
Alabama has the advantage on the offensive line as the Tide proved in the SEC championship game when the team ran right through Georgia’s vaunted front-seven with the Bulldogs providing no answer on how to stop the Tide.
Alabama also has the advantage when it comes to coaching and overall talent level. Head coach Nick Saban is second-to-none in the college football world when it comes to big game preparations, especially with the amount of time given to prepare for the title game.
Saban has put together a 62-13 record with the Tide over six seasons, a winning percentage of .827. Saban has also brought in nearly every top recruit he’s gone after in recent years. Former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley summed up recruiting against Saban saying while other coaches recruit, Saban picks the players he wants and basically drafts them because hardly any ever say no.
Notre Dame will be led by its emotional hero, linebacker Mant’I Teo. The Heisman Trophy finalist has led the Irish throughout his career, including this year when he helped the Irish walk into Norman, Oklahoma and walk out with a rare victory.
The Irish are undefeated heading into the BCS title game, while Alabama has one loss to the Texas A&M Aggies and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel earlier this year.
Make no mistake, both teams are evenly matched and while Alabama fans may come into the game with a bit of a chip on their shoulder believing the SEC is the most powerful conference; Notre Dame is not going to just roll over for the Tide and the game has the promise to be one for the ages.