COUNTDOWN TO SHOWDOWN
In the 25 days leading up to college football's championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the Chattanooga Times Free Press is counting down the traditions and memorable moments involving the Irish and the Crimson Tide. Today is No. 7.
When The Associated Press began releasing its final rankings after the bowl games, the highest-ranked team to win its bowl was crowned national champion.
The AP poll began its post-bowl rankings in 1968 but had a trial run in 1965. Alabama vaulted to the top in '65 after No. 1 Michigan State lost the Rose Bowl to UCLA, No. 2 Arkansas lost the Cotton Bowl to LSU and the No. 4 Crimson Tide defeated No. 3 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Things changed in 1977, when the regular season ended with a top five of Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan and Notre Dame. The bowls provided chaos when Notre Dame trampled Texas 38-10 in the Cotton, Oklahoma lost to Arkansas 31-6 in the Orange and Alabama blasted Ohio State 35-6 in the Sugar.
"Our team reached its peak today," Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant said. "I think we're No. 1. If you don't believe it, go out and line somebody up and come on."
Ohio State coach Woody Hayes agreed, saying, "I don't vote, but if I did I'd vote for Alabama."
In the final AP poll, Notre Dame received 37 first-place votes and 1,180 total points compared to 19 first-place votes and 1,132 points for Alabama. The Irish were voted No. 1 in the UPI poll as well.
When he learned of the final tally, Bryant simply said, "Congratulations to Notre Dame."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.