The pretenses have finally been shed.
The games have been played, and won — even dominated — all season long.
Notre Dame, through its undefeated run as the nation’s lone 12-0 bowl-eligible team, has earned the right to play for the BCS National Championship on January 7 in Miami.
The Alabama Crimson Tide, on the other hand, had been perceived as invincible until falling to Texas A&M. Coach Nick Saban and his program had to fight their way back into the title hunt, and fight they did.
The SEC Championship game in Atlanta was a brutally hard hitting affair between two giants of the current college football landscape. In the end, Bama’s running game was simply too much for the otherwise uber-talented Georgia defense.
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The 32-28 win served as a de-facto national semifinal, and now two of the nation’s most historically dominant programs meet in the era of smartphones and 3-D HD LCD TV to play for the crystal ball.
Both have earned their invites on the strength of their defensive units, ranked No. 1 and 2 in the nation, respectively. Notre Dame averaged only 10.3 points per game allowed, while the Tide came in only slightly behind at 10.7.
Further, the traditional powerhouses understood that a dominant rushing attack — combined, of course, with those elite defenses — is what ultimately wins championships.
Notre Dame senior Theo Riddick posted 146 yards against the USC Trojans to help carry the Golden Domers to where they find themselves currently, sitting pretty as the No. 1-ranked team in all the land. Bama fans by now are more than familiar with true freshman TJ Yeldon, who has supported starter Eddie Lacy in forming one of the nation’s most potent one-two rushing punches.
The individual star in this game, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o and Everett Golson, Bama’s AJ McCarron, Dee Milliner and Barrett Jones are all overshadowed by one thing. Even two of the nation’s brightest football minds in coaches Brian Kelly and Nick Saban are also nothing compared to the weight of one thing, and one thing only.
Notre Dame is undefeated for the first time since 1988 and are currently seeking its 14th national title.
Alabama, having won two in the last three years, is out for its 15th.
When these two storied programs meet on January 7, the ghosts of history will be looking down upon Miami to see who wins and who brings yet another title to their school’s hallowed halls.
Ghosts won’t be the only ones watching; so will we.
Before the game is played, all the players and statistics will be pored over time and again. Each win along the marathon that is the college football season will be dissected by football experts, bloggers and folks just arguing amongst one another at a local bar.
When push comes to shove, however, none of the numbers, nor any of the history, matter on one cool evening in Miami.
All that matters is who wins.
So, take a moment now and forget the numbers; forget the players and coaches, just focus on one thing.
Focus on that crystal ball.
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