Notre Dame and Alabama, arguably college football's most tradition-rich programs, were paired tonight in the Bowl Championship Series title game, which will be held Jan. 7 in Miami.
The Irish and Crimson Tide have each won eight Associated Press national championships, which are more than any other programs. Alabama has amassed 35 rushing touchdowns this season behind a powerful offensive line, while Notre Dame has allowed just two rushing touchdowns behind All-American linebacker Manti Te'o.
If only the rest of the BCS bowl games had appeal.
Down seasons in the Atlantic Coast, Big East and Big Ten conferences have resulted in the rest of the major bowl lineup lacking, though there is one David vs. Goliath matchup. By finishing in the top 16 of the final BCS standings, Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois earned a spot and was invited to the Orange Bowl to face ACC champ Florida State.
Northern Illinois bumped Oklahoma, an at-large hopeful, from the BCS equation, and that resulted in Big East champ Louisville going to the Sugar Bowl to face Florida. The Gators are 11-1 with wins over Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State, while the Cardinals are 10-2 with a 19-point loss to Syracuse and a 3-point loss to Connecticut.
Oregon and Kansas State will match their 11-1 records in the Fiesta Bowl, which could be the second best bowl behind the BCS title tilt. The Rose Bowl will pit Stanford against Wisconsin, which has lost five times but won the Big Ten title Saturday night with a 70-31 drubbing of Nebraska.
For more information, read Monday's Times Free Press