At a time when college football was generally considered the domain of eastern blue bloods, Notre Dame and Alabama were upstart teams that gave blue collar fans a chance to tweak the elite.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Notre Dame. Even casual sports fans understand this is a college football classic.
"Plus they've had a bunch of gods coaching them _ Rockne, Leahy, Ara in South Bend, and Wallace Wade, Bear Bryant, and now Saban at Alabama."
In 1923 _ an era so long ago the nickname "Ramblers" competed with fan favorite "Fighting Irish" in press reports _ Notre Dame won two landmark victories that help cement its place as America's team.
"It was Yankee, snooty Princeton against working class Notre Dame. Notre Dame had a lot of first generation-American players.
Notre Dame was the college football team for the people who didn't go to college. "An absolutely crucial element is winning," Sperber said.
Few programs have won like Notre Dame. Alabama is one of them.
Notre Dame beat Pop Warner's Stanford team, 27-10, and the trip from South Bend was "like a pilgrimage there and back," Sperber said.
Alabama won the 1926 Rose Bowl, 20-19 against Washington, went back to California in 1927 and tied Stanford 7-7. The Tide then won three more Rose Bowls from 1931-46, losing one.
When Wade left Alabama, he was replaced by Frank Thomas, a former Notre Dame quarterback who played for Rockne. "That was pretty big to get a guy from Notre Dame even then," McNair said.
Under the Bear, Alabama dominated the Southeastern Conference and won six national championships between 1961-79.
"He was the face of college football," McNair said.