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Title game to feature 2 historic greats

Unlike the 2011 season, this year’s BCS national title picture is as clear as the crystal football that the winner takes home.

On one hand is an undefeated Notre Dame team that seems to have finally shaken off more than 20 years of futility to reclaim its spot as one of college football’s powers. Instead of “Touchdown Jesus,” the phrase, “Lazarus, come forth,” might more aptly describe the 2012 Fighting Irish.

On the other hand is a team that knows a little bit about what revival is like. Alabama was barely a blip on college football’s radar in the post-Bear Bryant years, save for one national title in 1992. But one Nick Saban later, and the Crimson Tide is suddenly gunning for its second national title in a row, and third in the last four seasons.

Two of college football’s historical greats are now on a collision course for Miami, There’s already a lot of history between these two teams — mostly in Notre Dame’s favor — and there’s little doubt in my mind that the next chapter won’t fail to disappoint.

While the BCS national title game is sure to garner high ratings, it will be curious to follow the loyalties of college football fans over the next month and a half. While most of the country is likely suffering from Alabama/SEC fatigue, I wonder how many will be eager to pull for Notre Dame.

The younger generation of college football fans that aren’t Alabama/SEC loyalists will likely be Golden Domers all the way. I’m not so sure about older fans though. Traditionally, Notre Dame is akin to the New York Yankees, Duke basketball, Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Lakers — you either love them or hate them.

If there’s any fanbase that has to be sick right now, it’s Georgia Bulldog fans. In what was quite an exciting SEC championship game against Alabama, the Bulldogs stuck with the Tide right until the end, only to lose because a receiver couldn’t make it to the end zone, and Georgia had no time outs to stop the clock.

Pundits called it Georgia’s biggest game in more than 30 years, a reference to the Bulldogs’ Herschel Walker-led 1980 national championship. Despite a valiant effort, though, Georgia’s history remains highlighted by Herschel for at least another season.

As far as the championship game itself, Notre Dame enters with an unblemished record against a respectable schedule, which includes three wins against teams currently in the BCS top 25. The Irish are a hard-nosed football team, but they’ll likely face their greatest test yet in the SEC champion Crimson Tide.

As for Alabama, what else can you say at this point? This year’s Tide may not be as strong as last year’s, but if there’s one thing an SEC schedule does, it makes you battle-tested. Notre Dame is no slouch, though, so the Tide will have to be ready if it wants to improve on its 1-5 record against the Irish.

There’s no BCS title controversy this year, just two tough teams that have historically been at the pinnacle of the sport. See you in January.