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BCS title game must be a classic to live up to its hype

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 6:12 p.m.

MIAMI — Sometimes, the buildup to a game can overwhelm what actually happens on the field.

Certainly, No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama would have to play nothing less than a classic to live up to all the hype for Monday night's BCS championship.

Before either team stepped on the field in balmy South Florida, this was shaping up as one of the most anticipated games in years, a throwback to the era when Keith Jackson & Co. called one game a week, when it was a big deal for teams from different parts of the country to meet in a bowl game, when everyone took sides based on where they happened to live.

North vs. South. Rockne vs. Bear. The Fighting Irish vs. the Crimson Tide.

“It's definitely not any other game,” said Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said.

For the Crimson Tide (12-1), this is a chance to be remembered as a full-fledged dynasty. Alabama will be trying to claim its third national championship in four years and become the first school to win back-to-back BCS titles.

It's not a huge surprise to find Alabama playing for another title. That's not the case when it comes to Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish (12-0) weren't even ranked at the start of the season. But overtime wins against Stanford and Pitt, combined with three other victories by a touchdown or less, gave Notre Dame a shot at its first national title since 1988.

After so many lost years, the golden dome has reclaimed its luster in coach Brian Kelly's third season.

ESPN executives were hopeful of getting the highest ratings of the BCS era. Tickets were certainly at a premium, with a seat in one of the executive suites going for a staggering $60,000 on StubHub the day before the game, and even a less-than-prime spot in the corner of the upper deck requiring a payout of more than $900.

“This is, to me, the ultimate match-up in college football,” said Brent Musberger, the lead announcer for ESPN.

These schools have played only six times, and not since 1987, but the first of their meetings is still remembered as one of the landmark games in college football history. Bear Bryant had one of his best teams at the 1973 Sugar Bowl, but Ara Parseghian and the Fighting Irish claimed the national title by knocking off top-ranked Alabama, 24-23.

Of course, these Alabama players aren't concerned about what happened nearly four decades ago.

For the most part, all they know is winning.

“There's a lot of tradition that goes into Alabama football,” Mosley said, “and our plan is to keep that tradition alive.”

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