Will the next BCS national champion be the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish? Or will the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, the defending national champion, pick up its third national championship title in the past four years?
The climax of the 2012-13 bowl season is tonight, Jan. 7, when Notre Dame and Alabama meet in Miami in the BCS Championship Game. (Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m., Central Time, on ESPN).
Here are five things to know about this year's BCS matchup:
- Notre Dame has not won a championship in 24 years, its last coming in 1988. Alabama is the defending national champion and will become the first team to win back-to-back BCS titles if the Tide wins Monday night.
- Tonight's BCS game will be the first meeting between the Tide and Irish since 1987. The teams have played each other six times, with Notre Dame holding a 5-1 edge.
- Notre Dame has produced seven Heisman Trophy winners, Alabama has produced one -- Mark Ingram in 2009.
- If Alabama wins, it will be the seventh consecutive national championship for the SEC -- no other conference has ever won more than three consecutive titles.
- More than 72,000 fans are expected to watch tonight's title game in person. As of Jan. 6, there were about 4,200 tickets remaining, the cheapest of which was listed in the $900 price range.
Both teams have been talking with media members for several days. Here are a few of the highlights.
- Georgia fans will have an unpleasant memory of Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, who caught a 45-yard touchdown pass for the winning TD vs. the Bulldogs in the SEC title game. “To me, Alabama is not here without Amari Cooper,” ESPN analyst David Pollack said.
- "It was not a dirty play," Alabama's Quinton Dial said of his controversial block of Georgia QB Aaron Murray in December. (See the attached video.)
- Alabama coach Nick Saban, who once coached the Miami Dolphins, says he has no "unfinished business in the NFL," according to The Sporting News.
- Bear Bryant, Frank Leahy, Ross Browner, Joe Namath ... Notre Dame and Alabama have had many legendary players and coaches. Check the Legends series from The Chicago Tribune.
- Alabama is trying to repeat as BCS champion -- but no one ever has. From Wikipedia, check the results of all previous BCS title games.
Oddsmakers have Alabama favored by more than a touchdown.
Who ya got in Alabama-Notre Dame? Share your predictions and thoughts in the comments below.