“I would cheer for Auburn, Russia, and The University of Hell before I cheered for Notre Dame.” - Southern Proverb
Alabama and Notre Dame have only met six times, but make no mistake about it, these teams are rivals.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that Notre Dame holds a 5-1 record over the Tide. Maybe it’s because the Irish robbed Alabama of a national title in 1966. It could have something to do with Bear Bryant never beating them.
[2013 BCS National Championship: Five keys to an Alabama victory]
The 1966 season is a prime example of Alabama’s loathing for Notre Dame. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it can be summed up pretty easily. Alabama was the AP national champion in 1965, preseason number one in 1966, went undefeated, and finished number three behind Michigan State and Notre Dame.
It should be noted here that Alabama finished the regular season with four straight shutouts before destroying Nebraska 34-7 in the Orange bowl for a 10-0 record.
This is enough to cause an outrage, but it doesn’t stop there. Notre Dame and Michigan State played each other at the end of the season. The game was tied 10-10 in the fourth quarter, and Notre Dame had a chance to go for the win. Rather than risk turning the ball over, Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian decided to run out the clock and settle for a tie.
Champions don’t settle for ties.
Bear Bryant wouldn’t have settled for a tie.
Notre Dame won the championship that year when they didn’t deserve it.
These things, coupled with the classic North vs. South stigma that creeps into college football wherever it can, has created a special type of rivalry. It has been simmering just below the surface for a quarter-century waiting for the perfect moment to reignite.
The moment could not be more perfect.
Since Notre Dame won its last national championship in 1988, Alabama has won three. The Tide’s irrelevancy in the early 2000’s pales in comparison to the Irish’s twenty-year fall from grace. Bama is going for its third in four years, and Notre Dame is trying to get back on top.
Alabama has become the cream of the college football crop since 2007. The word “dynasty,” once whispered among the Tide faithful, is one game away from being shouted in the streets. Win or lose, Nick Saban has cemented a dynasty at Alabama, but losing to Notre Dame would leave a dark mark on this golden era of Crimson Tide football.
Alabama goes into the game with one of the great offenses in its storied history. Its defense is physical and punishing. Its main place-kicker is perfect on the season. This team is truly one of the best to rise out of the southern crucible that is the Southeastern Conference.
Notre Dame fields perhaps one of its greatest teams of all time as well. Do the Irish have what it takes to continue the historical dominance over the Crimson Tide? Will Alabama dominate its opponent as it has for the last four years in the postseason?
One thing is certain: there will be no ties to preserve the number one ranking on Monday night.
Revenge is coming.