Here under the glare of the South Florida sun and the spotlight of college football’s grandest stage, two programs with the sport’s richest bloodlines are looking toward future glory rather than rehashing prominent pasts.
Leave that to college football romantics.
TONIGHT’S MATCHUP between top-ranked Notre Dame, winner of 11 consensus national championships, and defending champion Alabama, which claims 14 titles, has generated an interest and a buzz that is nearly unprecedented, even in this era of information overload.
It’s a unique situation of two teams with eerily similar lineages and polarizing power. People love Notre Dame and love to hate Notre Dame. Alabama fans are as loyal as any, but their team has become the bully on college football’s block that others love to root against.
It’s a dream match-up for ESPN, which will telecast the game. Ratings for this game are expected to hit an all-time high for the network.
NOTRE DAME IS trying to fight back to prominence after a 24-year title drought. Alabama is shooting for a third national championship in four years, a dynasty that hasn’t been seen since Nebraska in the 1990s and Notre Dame in the 1940s.
ESPN college football host Reese Davis believes that tonight’s game is quite possibly the most anticipated game of the BCS era, largely because of the history involved.
“The only matchup that comes close to this is Texas-USC (in 2006),” Davis said. “For Notre Dame, the return to prominence, the opportunity to win a championship after all these years when people were asking, ‘Can they be relevant again,’ has created a great deal of anticipation.
“Texas-USC may be the equal, but I don’t think there has been a more highly anticipated game than the one we’ll see (tonight).”
Kickoff is set for approximately 8:30 p.m. EST at Sun Life Stadium.
The engine of this hype also seems to be that these two institutions and their respective fan bases are so different, yet so much alike. It’s not just Alabama vs. Notre Dame. It’s Springsteen vs. Skynyrd. Gump vs. Rudy. Bear vs. Knute. Goliath vs. Goliath.
Notre Dame played its first football game in 1887. Alabama played its first football game in 1892. Notre Dame has an all-time record of 865-299-42. Alabama has an all-time record of 826-321-43. Tonight’s game will be Notre Dame’s 33rd bowl game, but the Irish did not participate in bowls from 1925-69. This will be Alabama’s record 60th bowl game appearance.