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Notre Dame

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Championship history

– Notre Dame and Alabama can lay claim to 21 consensus national titles with each program also having its share of split titles.

Here is a look at each university’s consensus national titles seasons with Notre Dame claiming 11 championships and Alabama holding 10 titles:

Notre Dame

1924: The first Irish team to capture a title will always be known for Grantland Rice’s prose: “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horseman rode again.” The horseman Rice referred to were Harry Stuhldreher, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley and Don Miller, who led Notre Dame to a 10-0 season.

1929: Notre Dame had no home field this season and coach Knute Rockne battled phlebitis, which doctors said had a 50-50 chance of killing him if he coached through the season. Rockne still guided the Irish, sometimes from a hospital bed or wheelchair, to a 9-0 finish and the title.

1930: Rockne’s medical problems were cleared up and the Irish had a home stadium, which they christened with a second straight title. It was Rockne’s last season as coach at Notre Dame as he died in a plane crash in Kansas that winter.

1943: Notre Dame finished the season with a 19-14 loss to Great Lakes, but the Irish – who played seven teams that finished ranked in the Associated Press top 13 – were awarded their first AP title. It was Frank Leahy’s first title with Notre Dame, and it began a trend of Irish coaches winning titles in their third season.

1946: Leahy led Notre Dame to a title for a second time with the only smudge on the season coming in a scoreless finish against Navy in front of 74,121 in Yankee Stadium.

1947: The Irish captured back-to-back titles for the second time with one of their most powerful teams. Notre Dame never trailed in a game as it finished 9-0 for its first season without a loss or tie in 17 years.

1949: Notre Dame completed an incredible four-year stretch under Leahy as it captured a third title in four seasons by going 10-0 to improve to 36-0-2 over the four seasons. It was the last title Leahy won at Notre Dame.

1966: Ara Parseghian followed in Leahy’s footsteps by capturing a national title in his third year at Notre Dame. The Irish went 9-0-1, playing Michigan State to a 10-10 tie in a game billed as “the game of the century” as the Irish came to East Lansing ranked No. 1 with the Spartans ranked No. 2.

1973: Parseghian led Notre Dame to a second national title as his No. 3 Irish upset No. 1 Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl. There were six lead changes in the game, and Notre Dame iced the victory by throwing on third-and-9 from its own 2-yard line for a first down that allowed the Irish to run out the clock.

1977: The Irish left college football without an undefeated team as they upset Texas 38-10 in the Cotton Bowl by forcing six turnovers. The victory vaulted Notre Dame from No. 5 to No. 1, and Dan Devine became the third coach in the university’s history to win a title in his third season with the Irish.

1988: Lou Holtz continued the tradition by winning a title in his third season as he led Notre Dame to a 12-0 season capped by a 34-21 win over West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame toppled rivals Michigan, Miami and USC and defeated teams ranked first, second and third in the polls at the time the Irish played them.

Alabama

1925: The Crimson Tide’s first national championship came with a groundbreaking bowl appearance. Alabama became the first southern team to play in the Rose Bowl, and the Tide defeated Washington 20-19 to finish 10-0.

1926: Alabama returned to the Rose Bowl and played Stanford to a 7-7 tie as it captured a second straight championship under coach Wallace Wade.

1961: Paul “Bear” Bryant captured his first of six championships in his fourth season at Alabama. The Tide went 11-0 and outscored their opponents 297-25, capping the season by topping Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

1964: Alabama suffered a 21-17 loss to Texas in the first Orange Bowl to be played at night when quarterback Joe Namath’s apparent game-winning touchdown was ruled no good after one official ruled him in and another ruled him out. Despite the controversy of the Orange Bowl, the Tide were still named the champion by the AP and UPI.

1965: Alabama captured an unlikely title thanks to No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Arkansas both losing bowl games, making the Tide’s game against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl a de facto national championship game. Alabama hung on for a 39-28 win and was rewarded with a second straight title.

1978: Alabama went 11-1 and captured the title thanks to a goal-line stand against Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. The No. 2 Tide stopped running back Matt Guman on fourth-and-inches to secure a 14-7 win over the No. 1 Nittany Lions.

1979: Alabama was dominant on its way to a second straight title as the Tide shut out five opponents and defeated five teams by 30 or more points. The Tide finished their run with a 24-9 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama had a 284-97 advantage in rushing yards in the bowl game as the Tide captured their final title under Bryant.

1992: Alabama upset No. 1 Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl to finish 13-0 and bring the title back to the Tide. It was the only title the Tide won under Gene Stallings, who assembled a defense that held 10 of 13 opponents to 11 points or less that season.

2009: Nick Saban brought the title back to Alabama as he guided the Tide to a 13-0 season, which included a 32-13 win over No. 1 Florida in the SEC championship game and a 37-21 victory over Texas in the BCS championship game. Running back Mark Ingram became Alabama’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner.

2011: Alabama’s second title in three years came when it avenged its only loss of the season. In the only BCS title game to feature teams from the same conference, the Tide defeated LSU 21-0 to keep the title in the SEC for a sixth straight season. Alabama had lost its regular-season game to LSU 9-6 in overtime.

tkrausz@jg.net

– Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

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