MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the Alabama Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Fighting Irish take the field Monday night at Sun Life Stadium to battle it out for the BCS National Championship; a storied, but one-sided rivalry will be rekindled between two teams that are both beloved and hated by football fans.
On one side of the field is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish play in Notre Dame Stadium before 80,795 fans each week. The blue and gold have won 865 games over the football program’s history and fans and players alike look to Touchdown Jesus who watches over the games on campus.
Notre Dame’s famed Golden Dome is one of the most famed icons in academia and the school that was once coached by Knute Rockne is looking to win another one for the Gipper.
Historically, Notre Dame has had seven Heisman Trophy winners, 44 college football Hall of Famers, 33 bowl appearances and 11 national championships.
Standing in the way of the Irish’s seemingly storybook season is the Alabama Crimson Tide. The school once coached by someone revered in Alabama as much as Touchdown Jesus, Paul “Bear” Bryant, regularly plays before more than 101,000 fans every week.
To put that number in perspective, the total population of South Bend, Indiana where Notre Dame plays is 101,081. The total capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium where Alabama plays its home games is 101,821.
Alabama’s had one Heisman Trophy winner, 23 Hall of Famers, 60 bowl appearances, and a claimed 14 national championships. Plus, if you go to Tuscaloosa, you can’t escape without going to Dreamland. This Dreamland has nothing to do with sleep; instead it’s all about the best ribs in the South.
Both teams have moments they’d like to forget in their recent history. For Notre Dame, they’d like to get rid of the Bob Davie/Tyrone Willingham/Charlie Weis-era where the team went 91-67 from 1997 to 2009.
For Alabama, they’d like to remove the Mike Dubose/Dennis Franchione/Mike Shula-era that saw the Tide go 51-54 from 1997 to 2006.
The Tide and Irish have been rebuilt from the ground up by two of the best coaches in the country, Nick Saban and Brian Kelly. Saban already has three national championships, two from Alabama and one from his time at LSU.
Saban built programs at Michigan State, LSU, and now Alabama that are all national powers with the latter two regularly being contenders for the national championship.
Kelly built a Division II powerhouse at Grand Valley State that played for three national championships from 2001-2003 including back-to-back championship wins in 2002 and 2003. He moved on to Central Michigan and then took over at Cincinnati where he took the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS games.
Kelly took over the Irish after Charlie Weis ran the team into the ground. After finishing 8-4 last season, Kelly’s Irish lost the Champs Sports Bowl to the Florida State Seminoles. Since then, Notre Dame has yet to lose a game heading into the BCS Championship game Monday night.