When the final horn sounded to signal the end of last year’s BCS title game, dozens of schools began setting their sights on raising the crystal ball after the 2012 season.
Locking up recruits for signing day, spring practices, off season workouts, summer programs and a grueling fall 2-a-day schedule all happen for one reason, to try and put together a team to earn the right to play for a national championship.
A three month season of ups and downs eliminates all but two teams who have earned the right to play for an opportunity to call themselves the champion.
That’s where we are.
Number 1 Notre Dame vs. Number 2 Alabama, two of the most prestigious and storied programs in all of college football. Together, they have 25 combined national championships. The script writers for the BCS title game couldn’t have written a better screenplay.
Alabama’s potent running attack features two 1,000-yard running backs. Junior Eddie Lacy has rushed for 1,182 yards and 16 touchdowns, while his counterpart freshman T.J. Yeldon has 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Alabama averages 224.6 yards rushing a game.
On the other side, Notre Dame ranks sixth nationally in total defense and fourth against the run, giving up only 92.4 rushing yards a game. All-American inside linebacker and Heisman runner up, Manti Te'o anchors a stout Irish defensive unit.
Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency, passing for 26 touchdowns, with only three interceptions. He’s completing 67% of his passes.
Notre Dame ranks 21st nationally against the pass. Te'o has seven interceptions.
The Irish offense is led by sophmore QB, Everett Golson. Notre Dame ranked No. 48 in the country in total offense on the year. Their greatest on offense heading into Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game is its three-headed running-back monster — Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III.
Among the strengths of these teams are their respective head coaches. Notre Dame and Alabama boast arguably two of the best coaches in the game, Brian Kelly and Nick Saban. What makes these two so great is their ability to get the most out of what they have.
After losing six players to the NFL draft just on the defensive side of the ball, Alabama expected to have a letdown this year. Here they are in the championship game.
At the beginning of the season, virtually nobody outside of South Bend, Indiana picked Notre Dame to be playing for the National Championship. They couldn’t even decide on a quarterback until midway through the season. Here they are in the championship game.
Nick Saban and Alabama have the chance to become just the third team in college football history to win 3 titles in a 4 year span.
Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly hopes to add his name to the legendary list of Notre Dame coaches who won a title in their third year as head coach: Lou Holtz in 1988, Dan Devine in 1977, Ara Parseghian in 1966 and Frank Leahy in 1943.
"The tradition of Alabama and Notre Dame brings special attention to it, but we're just trying to be the best team on Monday, Jan. 7," said Kelly, the AP coach of the year and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award winner. "All of that tradition, what's happened in the past, is not going to help us Jan. 7, but we do respect the traditions.”
Regardless who wins, one of these teams and their coaches will be elevated to a new level of legendary status within the college ranks.
It should be a game for the ages.
Where To Watch Online: BCS Championship Game