COUNTDOWN TO SHOWDOWNIn 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. 9.
It wasn't quite the original, but it wasn't a bad sequel at all for Notre Dame.
After the Fighting Irish eclipsed Alabama 24-23 in a fantastic Sugar Bowl following the 1973 season, the two powerhouses were paired in the Orange Bowl a year later. Notre Dame prevailed again, winning 13-11 after taking a 13-0 lead in the second quarter and holding a 13-3 advantage throughout most of the second half.
"I don't believe this year's game was quite what last year's game was, but they were both great ballgames," said Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements, who led the Irish in both victories and was Orange Bowl MVP.
Alabama entered the Orange Bowl following an 11-0 regular season and was ranked No. 1 in the United Press International poll and No. 2 by The Associated Press. Notre Dame was 9-2 and barely in the top 10 following a 55-24 loss at Southern Cal, but the Irish were playing in their final game under coach Ara Parseghian.
Richard Todd's 48-yard touchdown pass to Russ Schamun and his two-point toss to George Pugh pulled the Tide within two points with 3:13 to play, but Todd was intercepted by Reggie Barnett at the Notre Dame 34-yard line with a minute left.
"This game ranks right up there among the greatest of my career," Parseghian said. "We've won two games from them now by a total of three points."