Thanks to its spot in the BCS rotation, the Orange Bowl is hosting the "2013 Discover BCS National Championship." With No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama facing off for the Coach's Trophy, however, there isn't much news for fans to learn when it comes to the participants in this marquee matchup. The teams meeting in South Florida represent two of the most storied programs in all of college football, with Alabama claiming 14 national titles and Notre Dame not far behind with 11.
"At Notre Dame, football is a religion," famed broadcaster Howard Cosell would tell viewers while calling a memorable clash between these two programs in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. "At Alabama, it's way of life."
Forty years later, Alabama is the defending national champion and the preeminent football force in the nation and Notre Dame appears on the verge of waking up the echoes and reestablishing itself as a perennial contender under head coach Brian Kelly. These gridiron powerhouses have met six previous times over the years, with Notre Dame holding a 5-1 edge in those contests. Any historical edge the Irish hold over the Tide held little sway with the oddsmakers, who installed Nick Saban's 2012 club as the favorite. Regardless of who comes out on top, ESPN figures to win big.
"We need the stars to align on the field, but I think it has the potential to break some records," Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming, told Alabama.com. "To get those two teams in the championship game is about as good a circumstance as you could hope for on paper going into it."
On paper, Notre Dame can point to its zero in the loss column and those No. 1 ranks in the BCS standings and total points allowed per game (10.3) to make its case as the top team in the country. On the field, Heisman finalist Manti Te'o and the stout Irish defense will have to contend with Alabama's powerful offensive line and running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, who mauled Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
On the other side of the ball, the Irish will hope that their own dual-threat redshirt freshman quarterback, Everett Golson, can duplicate the performance that Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel had against Alabama's defense, which ranked second in the nation in points allowed per game (107). It will be up to AJ McCarron to answer any scores created by Golson. Alabama's junior quarterback thrived in the 2012 BCS title game against LSU and orchestrated key scoring drives this season against LSU and Georgia.
Will McCarron ensure that Alabama becomes the first team to repeat as BCS national champion, establishing a modern dynasty? Or can the Irish turn back the Tide to claim their first title since 1988?
STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE GAME: