In the 1998-1999 college football season, the Bowl Championship Series was introduced. #1 Tennessee took on #2 Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl, which was the National Championship Game. Tennessee won the game 23-16 for the school’s sixth national title. Since the year after this game, the #1 team going in has been favored by most in every title game. But out of those thirteen games since Tennessee initial BCS title win, only six ranked #1 going into the game have won.
In this season’s title game, two of college football’s titans square off in a clash for the ages down in Miami Gardens. #1 and undefeated Notre Dame will meet #2 and defending National Champion Alabama. The Irish come in at 12-0 and sporting the nation’s #1 scoring defense, led by Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o. Although the Irish have beaten the likes of Rose Bowl Champion, Stanford and national powerhouse, Oklahoma in Norman, the Irish feel very disrespected by the not just the country, but the entire world seems to have the Crimson Tide raising the crystal football on January 7th.
Notre Dame comes into the title game as arguably the first number one ranked team to be “the underdog”. Although the Irish have quality wins and atop of the polls, their escapes of Pittsburgh and BYU have critics doubting the golden domers. Plus, in today’s day and age, if you come into a big-time match-up with the Southeastern Conference, you’re going to be seen as the underdog. The SEC has won the last six National Championships (Florida twice, LSU, Auburn and Alabama twice), and SEC fans refuse to let the country forget that.
Can the Irish pull the so-called “upset” over Nick Saban’s dominant Crimson Tide? To do that, redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson will have to play his best game of the season. Experts believe two things will need to happen. Golson will have to find his inner “Johnny Football” to beat the Tide (Referring to Texas A&M’s colossal upset of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in November). And the war inside the trenches will need to be won by the blue and gold, led by NFL prospect Louis Nix III. If (and only if) the Irish complete these two tasks, then Notre Dame can join the likes of Tennessee as walking in as #1 and leaving as #1.