Alabama vs. Notre Dame: BCS Title game preview


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As you’ve known since early Saturday evening, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game on Monday, January 7, 2013, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla.  The game will be televised by ESPN and will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (CST).

“We are very excited about coming to South Florida and I congratulate Notre Dame and Coach Kelly and his players on an undefeated season and their number one ranking,” said Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

Alabama (12-1 overall) and Notre Dame (12-0) have met six times in their storied histories, but will be meeting for the first time since 1987. Notre Dame owns a 5-1-0 series lead over the Crimson Tide with two of the games taking place in the postseason.

The teams first met in the 1973 Sugar Bowl when the Irish won a memorable 24-23 verdict over the Crimson Tide in a game that decided that season’s national championship. The squads matched up again following the next season with Notre Dame squeaking past Alabama, 13-11, in the 1975 Orange Bowl game to cap the 1974 season. Alabama and Notre Dame met in regular season contests in 1976 (a 21-18 Notre Dame win at South Bend, Ind.), 1980 (a 7-0 Notre Dame win at Birmingham, Ala.), 1986 (a 28-10 Alabama victory in Birmingham) and 1987 (a 37-6 Notre Dame win at South Bend).

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The Crimson Tide will be making its third appearance in the BCS National Championship Game in the last four seasons. Alabama defeated Texas, 37-21, in the 2010 contest played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and then defeated LSU, 21-0, in the 2012 title game played in New Orleans, La. Notre Dame is making its first appearance in the BCS National Championship Game.

“The opportunity to play in our second straight BCS Championship Game is special,” said linebacker C.J. Mosley. “One of the goals that we set for this team at the beginning of each season is to play for a national championship. It has not been easy this season and there are several different times we could have let the opportunity slip away, but we pulled together, fought through adversity and found a way to make it to Miami.”

The Crimson Tide is making its fifth BCS bowl appearance and fourth in the last five seasons under Saban. The Crimson Tide also played in the 2009 Sugar Bowl (2008 season – a 31-17 loss to Utah), the 2010 BCS National Championship Game (2009 season – a 37-21 victory over Texas), and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game (2011 season – a 21-0 victory over LSU). Alabama also appeared in the 2000 Orange Bowl (a 35-34 loss to Michigan in overtime).

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Alabama will be playing a post-season game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami for the third time in school history, with this upcoming matchup, the 2000 Orange Bowl and the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl against Colorado. Overall, this will be Alabama’s 10th bowl game appearance in the city of Miami. Prior to the 2000 Orange Bowl, Alabama also participated in the Orange Bowl Classic in 1944 (a 37-21 win over Boston College), 1953 (a 61-6 win over Syracuse), 1963 (a 17-0 win over Oklahoma), 1965 (a 21-17 loss to Texas), 1966 (a 39-28 win over Nebraska), 1972 (a 38-6 loss to Nebraska), 1975 (a 13-11 loss to Notre Dame) and the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl (a 30-25 win over Colorado).

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It’s a matchup of the top two scoring defenses in the country–with Notre Dame ranking number one (allowing 10.33 points per game) and Alabama second (10.69).

It’s Notre Dame’s first appearance in a de-facto championship game since 1988 when the unbeaten and top-rated Irish defeated third-ranked and unbeaten West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl to claim their 11th consensus national title.

This game mirrors the 1973 Sugar Bowl in which top-ranked and unbeaten Alabama lost 24-23 to second-ranked and unbeaten Notre Dame at old Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, La.

For Notre Dame it’s a 32nd postseason bowl appearance (15-16 record). It’s the third straight season under Brian Kelly the Irish have played in the postseason—following appearances in the 2010 Sun Bowl and the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl

The Irish have played seven times previously in the Cotton Bowl (following 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1992 and 1993 seasons), five times in the Orange Bowl (following 1972, 1974, 1989, 1990 and 1995 seasons), four times in the Sugar Bowl (1973, 1980, 1991, 2006), four times in the Fiesta Bowl (1988, 1994, 2000, 2005) and once in the Rose Bowl (1924).

Notre Dame has never played a game in Sun Life Stadium. All five Irish Orange Bowl games (two wins, three losses) were played at the old Orange Bowl Stadium. The Irish also played 13 times (6-6-1 record) at the Orange Bowl Stadium against Miami.

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This marks the third time Notre Dame and Alabama have met in bowl games. In addition to that 1973 meeting, the two teams met a year later in the Orange Bowl following the 1974 regular season. The Tide again came in unbeaten at 11-0 and ranked number one, while the Irish were 9-2 and rated eighth (both UPI rankings). Notre Dame won that game 13-11 in Ara Parseghian’s final game as Irish head coach.

Among connections between the two programs is Alabama director of athletics Mal Moore. He was the Notre Dame running backs coach from 1983-85 under Gerry Faust and also served as Irish assistant head coach in 1984 and 1985.

Alabama has played in more bowl games (60, not counting one vacated appearance and including the 2013 BCS Championship Game) and earned more bowl wins (33) than any school in college football history. The Crimson Tide has posted a 33-22-3 all-time bowl record. The Crimson Tide is making its sixth consecutive bowl appearance under head coach Nick Saban and the ninth straight overall for the school. Saban is 4-1 in bowl games at Alabama, defeating LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, defeating Michigan State in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, defeating Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game and defeating Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl. The Tide’s bowl loss under Saban came in the 2009 Sugar Bowl against Utah.

Way too early prediction: Alabama 19, Notre Dame 17

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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