Notre Dame - Alabama: A Game for the Ages

Alabama look to repeat and be the first back to back champions in the BCS era.

Carlos Pineda | Staff Writer

Two of college football's most storied programs will meet for the national championship in South Florida.

With the final BCS Standings released Sunday night, it is no surprise that No. 1 Notre Dame will face No. 2 Alabama in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Notre Dame, which is making its first BCS National Championship Game appearance, finished the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record after a win last week at USC. The Fighting Irish last won a national title in 1988.

Alabama (12-1) beat Georgia 32-28 in the SEC Championship Game Saturday to secure its spot in the national championship game. The Crimson Tide is making its second consecutive trip to the BCS National Championship Game and third trip in four years. Considered to be a rebuilding year, Alabama spent most of the season ranked first in the major polls and could become the first team in the BCS era to repeat as champions.

This marks the seventh all-time meeting between the two programs — Notre Dame leads the series 5-1. But none of the games stand out quite like the first two meetings in the 1973 Sugar Bowl and the 1975 Orange Bowl.

Third-ranked Notre Dame knocked off No. 1 Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl to capture a share of the national title. The Crimson Tide was declared the national champion by the coaches poll. The following year in the Orange Bowl, No. 9 Notre Dame upset first-ranked Alabama 13-11 in Ara Parseghian's final game as Notre Dame head coach.

"It's always a special occasion to play against Notre Dame," Alabama coach Nick Saban said, "especially in a bowl like the Orange Bowl and especially for the national championship."

The BCS National Championship Game will feature two of the top defenses in the country. The Crimson Tide rank first nationally in total defense (246 yards per game), while the Irish rank first in scoring defense — allowing 10.33 points per game. Alabama ranks second in scoring defense, allowing 10.69 points per game.

Leading Notre Dame is middle linebacker Manti Te'o. He has a team-high seven interceptions and 103 tackles. Offensively, quarterback Everett Golson has passed for 2,135 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 305 yards. In the backfield, the trio of Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III have combined to rush for 1,981 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"This is just a good all-around football team with tremendous balance on offense and a very physical defense," Saban said.

For Alabama, junior quarterback A.J. McCarron ranks first in the nation in passing efficiency. He has thrown 26 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Behind a traditional run-offense, the Crimson Tide is averaging 224.62 yards rushing per game and proved to wear down the Georgia defense during its comeback late in the game. Alabama ended up 350 yards rushing against the Bulldogs.

Alabama's backfield has two 1,000 yard rushers in Junior Eddie Lacy and freshman T.J. Yeldon. Lacy has rushed for 1,182 yards with 16 touchdowns and Yeldon added 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

When Notre Dame and Alabama convene in South Florida in less than a month, one team will look to add to its recent legacy, while the other attempts to return to the top of college football.



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