Alabama Football: Crimsom Tide vs. Fighting Irish hype not equal to history

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football: The CFBP semi-final can never match the history and the hype of Crimson Tide vs. Fighting Irish games.

Lovers of college football history take special notice of Alabama Football games with Notre Dame. There are many reasons, not the least being the two programs are the most iconic in the history of college football. For both glories go back to early in the 20th century. Since World War I, distinct eras of college football success have been dominated by the Irish and the Tide. No other school has achieved as much.

Alabama football fans can accurately claim the dominant Irish eras were many decades ago. Another claim could be made the two Paul Bryant Dynasties and the Nick Saban Dynasty are unmatched by Notre Dame. Irish fans will strongly disagree, pointing to four National Championships under Knute Rockne in 1919-1930. The fourth in 1930 is shared with the Crimson Tide. A stronger Irish claim is the run Frank Leahy had in winning four National Championships in 1943-1949.

The Irish have not been as dominating after ill health forced Leahy to retire early. Ara Parseghian came close with three National Championships in 1964-1973. The Irish have won just two since, in 1977 and 1988.

What some Alabama football fans remember the most is a two-decade inability to beat Notre Dame. Twice during that futility, losses to the Fighting Irish cost the Crimson Tide National Championships. In 1973, after losing to Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, the previously No. 1 Crimson Tide held on to a shared championship, only because the Coaches Poll awarded its National Champion before the bowl games. Notre Dame was the AP National Champion.

The following season a victory in the Orange Bowl would have given the Tide the 1974 National Championship. The Irish beat the Tide 13-11. The bitter losses by a combined margin of three points still agonize some Crimson Tide fans.

After losses to the Irish in 1973, 1975 (1974 season), 1976 and 1980, the Crimson Tide finally beat Notre Dame in 1986. The following season the Tide lost to the Irish again, taking the Tide record between the two schools to 1-5.

The taint of that old history was shed in the 2012, BCS National Championship game. The game was over early in the evening of Jan. 7, 2013. Four seconds into the second quarter, the Tide went up 21-0 and coasted to a 42-14 victory. Brent Musburger famously said if it had been a fight, they would have stopped it.

Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly says his team is more able to battle the Tide now. Speaking of his team’s chances, Kelly said,

"We’ve certainly evolved since 2012 in terms of our roster. It’s a deeper roster, more physical on both sides of the ball… I think overall the depth of the roster, the ability to make plays on both sides of the ball and, quite frankly, just the size and physicality on both the offensive and defensive line is probably the biggest departure from 2012."

Notre Dame fans are hoping Kelly is correct. Brian Kelly is a good football coach and since 2012, he has built his team to not be physically embarrassed again. In some ways, the Irish have become what Alabama football used to be when the Tide’s biggest strengths were being bigger, tougher, more physical than opponents. There are plenty of those strengths left in the Crimson Tide and much more. With the Tide also using speed, quickness, and a masterful offensive scheme, it is probable Kelly’s rebuild will not be enough.

Next. Four Keys to a National Championship. dark

In non-Playoff bowl games, opt-outs may determine outcomes. Not a single Crimson Tide or Fighting Irish player will choose to opt-out. The Crimson Tide is holding steady as a 19.5 point favorite.