December in South Bend for Alabama Football, bring it on!

Could the ninth game ever between Alabama Football and Notre Dame take place in a South Bend Playoff game?
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In late December 2024, Alabama Football might enjoy a bye week during the CFB Playoff First Round. A bye would be great for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Next best would be playing in the Playoffs First Round and hosting the game in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

There is a third possibility for the Dec. 20-21 weekend slate of Playoff games. It is the Crimson Tide traveling to a higher seed for a first-round game. Alabama fans would be less enthused for a First Round away game unless the game is against an old rival.

The Ohio State site Eleven Warriors, projects considerable enthusiasm for an Ohio State Quarterfinal game. The buzz comes from a Bruce Feldman projection that has Ohio State as the No. 1 seed. After a bye for the Bucks, the 8-seed vs. 9-seed winner would face Ohio State. Feldman projects the 8-seed to be Notre Dame and the 9-seed to be Alabama.

Alabama and Notre Dame are not traditional rivals. The two programs have played only eight times. The first contest was the 1973 Sugar Bowl. Alabama lost a heart-breaker to the Fighting Irish, 24-23. Two more Notre Dame victories soon followed in the 1975 Orange Bowl and the 1976 regular season. The Orange Bowl Game was a slugfest, with the Irish prevailing 13-11. The 1976 game was in South Bend, with the Irish winning 21-18.

Alabama finally got Notre Dame on home turf in 1980. The November contest at Legion Field ended with another Notre Dame win, 7-0.

In October of 1986, Notre Dame returned to Birmingham. Ray Perkins pulled off what Bear Bryant was never able to achieve; a win over the Fighting Irish, 28-10. It was the game that Cornelius Bennett came close to ending the football career of Notre Dame quarterback, Steve Beurlein. Alabama never trailed in the game, with the first score coming from a Greg Richardson 66-yard punt return touchdown. Alabama went to South Bend the next season and the No. 11 ranked Crimson Tide was walloped 37-6.

For some Alabama fans disdain for Notre Dame goes back to years before the two teams first played each other. It goes back to the 1966 season. Alabama was 11-0 in the 1966 season. Some Crimson Tide historians argue the 1966 team was one of Bryant's best, despite not winning a National Championship. A 1966 national title would have given the Crimson Tide a three-peat. It didn't happen because poll voters chose Notre Dame and Michigan State as co-champions. The Spartans and the Irish played to a 10-10 tie in November. Instead of playing to win, Notre Dame played for a tie.

In January 2013 and January 2021 Alabama Crimson Tide beatdowns of Notre Dame avenged the losses and disappointments that went back to 1966. Alabama beating Notre Dame again, this time in a CFB Playoff game at South Bend, would indeed be sweet. Maybe more sweet than a first-round bye or a home Playoff game.

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