By Bill Pennington | Dec. 8, 2012 | The New York Times
Protecting a 24-23 lead in the final minutes of the 1973 Sugar Bowl against Alabama, underdog Notre Dame faced a pivotal third-and-8 at its 3-yard line.
From the broadcast booth, Howard Cosell, in the overtly theatric tone he summoned for moments like these, bellowed into his microphone: “This is the dream matchup: Notre Dame-Alabama. At Notre Dame, football is a religion. At Alabama, it is a way of life.”
Thirty-nine years ago, there was a college football national championship game arranged not by computer rankings or a rubric of poll results like this season’s Alabama-Notre Dame matchup for the Bowl Championship Series title, but by the kind of primitive challenge heard in a sandlot.