Alabama has been here before. Like last year. At the end of the 2011 season, the Crimson Tide went to the BCS National Championship Game ranked second in the nation and facing number one ranked LSU. This year the Tide is back at number two and back in the title game, this time against number one Notre Dame.
Alabama, 12-1 and ranked second in the nation, takes on Notre Dame, 12-0 and a unanimous first place ranking, in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 at Miami Gardens, Fla.
Last year the Crimson Tide was second and playing top-ranked and undefeated LSU in the national title game in New Orleans. Bama, of course, defeated the Tigers, 21-0, to win Bama’s second national championship in a three-year span.
Last season’s meeting was unusual in that it matched teams that had been ranked first and second when they played earlier in the season. LSU had been number one when the Tigers went into Tuscaloosa and defeated second-rated Alabama, 9-6, in overtime.
While this will be the third time in just over a year that Alabama has been matched against the nation’s number one team, it will be only the 10th time in history the Tide has gone up against the top-rated college team. Using the Associated Press rankings (even though the AP poll doesn’t figure into the BCS), Alabama has nine previous meetings against teams ranked first in the nation at the time the game was played.
Alabama has a record of 5-4 in such games.
In 1957, the last season before the arrival of Paul Bryant at Alabama, top-ranked (and on NCAA probation for buying players) Auburn defeated the Tide, 40-0. In 1971, the first year of Bama in the wishbone offense, the Tide was ranked second in the nation and facing top-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The Cornhuskers took a 38-6 win.
Alabama won its next three games against teams ranked number one – two of them resulting in national championships. In 1977, Alabama went to Los Angeles and upset USC, 21-20, in a regular season game. The next two came in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
Alabama’s 1978 team defeated Penn State, 14-7, and the 1992 Crimson Tide of Coach Gene Stallings defeated Miami, 34-13.
In 2003, the Tide fell to Oklahoma in Norman, 20-13.
Coach Nick Saban has a 2-1 record at Alabama in games against number one. In addition to the two games against LSU last year, Bama was a 32-13 winner over number one Florida in the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
When the Tide meets the Fighting Irish in the national championship game, it will mark Bama’s 30th game against ranked teams in the past five seasons. Alabama is 22-7 against ranked teams in that period, including a 4-1 record in 2012.
Alabama defeated Michigan (ranked eighth) 41-14; Mississippi State (13th) 38-7; LSU (sixth) 21-17; and Georgia (third) 32-28; and lost to Texas A&M (15th) 24-29.
The only common opponent for Alabama and Notre Dame in 2012 was Michigan. The Irish defeated the Wolverines 13-6.
This will be the first meeting of Alabama and Notre Dame since 1987. Bama has a terrible record against the Irish with Notre Dame winning five of six games. Notre Dame defeated Alabama, 24-23, in the Sugar Bowl to win the AP national championship at the end of the 1973 season. The Irish downed the Tide 13-11 in the Orange Bowl the next year.