Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla.
Forecast: Lows in the high 60s, with a 20 percent chance of rain
Spread: Alabama by 10
Watchability: Traditionalists love this matchup, and just about every other fan will be watching too. ESPN believes it could break the viewership record set by the USC-Texas championship game in the 2006 Rose Bowl, a 41-38 Longhorns win seen in 21.7 percent of U.S. households. That game was on ABC, and this one is on cable. But it's hard to top the allure of two teams going for all-time college football supremacy: Alabama and Notre Dame lead all programs with eight AP national titles apiece.
The Crimson Tide are on the verge of becoming a modern-day dynasty. This would be their third national championship in four years. Coach Nick Saban, of course, refuses to look at that big picture.
"We show our team a video of Michael Jordan talking about making the game-winning shot," Saban said. "It doesn't matter how many game-winning shots he's made in the past. The only one that matters is the one he's about to take.
"That's the whole deal. Can you focus on the next shot? You're so zeroed in on the next shot that you don't have time to think about the other ones. You really don't."
To pull the upset, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said, his team must throw effectively and use the whole field.
"There's a lot of things that you have to do," he said. "If you go in there and just say, ‘We're going to play the game between the tackles,' you're in for a long day. I think we have to utilize the 53 1/3 by 120. We've got to be attacking all areas and getting the kind of matchups we need offensively.
"We've got to get big chunk plays. I'm just going to tell you that right now. They know that, we know that."
Shining stars: Alabama – AJ McCarron. The junior QB, who'll return next season, set a school single-season record with 26 TD passes while completing 67 percent of his throws for 2,669 yards. He was picked off three times. McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency (173.1) and is 24-2 as a starter. Notre Dame -- LB Manti Te'o. Alabama knows a thing or two about great linebackers, but Te'o could be the best it's seen. The Heisman runner-up led the Irish with 103 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. His knack for the ball that should alarm the Tide the most. His seven interceptions set the record for the most by an LB in school history.
Who could steal the show: Alabama – C.J. Mosley. The junior LB was voted team MVP after leading the nation's second-best defense (10.7 points allowed) with 99 tackles, 43 more than any other defender. In the SEC Championship Game, he saved the Tide by tipping Aaron Murray's final pass. Mosley has seven tackles for loss, four sacks, three QB hurries, two INTs, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Notre Dame -- Tyler Eifert. A lot of the attention on offense goes to QB Everett Golson and RBs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, but Eifert, the 6-6, 251-pound TE, is a player to watch. He led the Irish in receptions (44), receiving yards (624) and tied for the team lead in receiving TDs (4). He played his best down the stretch, averaging 5.5 receptions and 70.6 yards per game in the final four games.
Magic number for Notre Dame: 5. That's how many of Notre Dame's 12 wins were decided by seven or fewer points. You can interpret that different ways. It could be a lack of dominance or an indication the Irish will hold the edge in a close game.
3 keys to an Alabama win
- Barrett Jones' foot: The Rimington Trophy winner as the nation's top center participated in his first bowl practice Tuesday after missing the first nine with a sprained left foot. Alabama's most experienced player, Jones previously had been riding a stationary bike with a cast or boot on his foot while backup Ryan Kelly worked with the first unit. Jones is vital to everything Alabama does offensively.
- Tracking Eifert: Notre Dame features the nation's top tight end in Eifert. The Irish sometime split him out wide. Alabama's Dee Milliner (6-1, 199) is a physical corner who could be used to shadow Eifert. He broke up 16 passes and intercepted two to rank third nationally in passes defensed.
- Freshman in spotlight: WR Amari Cooper caught eight balls for 128 yards and a TD in the SEC Championship Game, and the Tide likely need another big night from the speedy 6-1, 198-pound freshman. With Notre Dame focused on stopping the run, Cooper must make plays on the outside.
3 keys to a Notre Dame win
- Limit the Tide's running game: It's virtually impossible to stop Alabama's two-headed rushing attack of Yeldon and Lacy, but Notre Dame can't let the Tide gash it with huge runs. Alabama ran for 350 yards against Georgia in the SEC title game. Led by NG Louis Nix and Te'o, the Irish give up 92.4 yards rushing per game (4th nationally).
- Get Golson on the move: The Notre Dame QB won't be able to set up in the pocket too often. Alabama brings a variety of exotic blitzes, so Notre Dame will need to keep Golson moving to keep Alabama guessing. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, the only QB to beat Alabama this year, had 18 carries for 92 yards against the Tide.
- Capitalize in the red zone: Notre Dame must come away with points when it makes it into the red zone. That's been easier said than done against the Tide. Alabama finished the regular season ranked second nationally in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score on just 63 percent of their visits. Notre Dame finished the year tied for 77th with a red-zone scoring percentage of 79 percent.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Notre Dame 20
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Daniel Lewis and Larry Hartstein, follow @CBSSportsSEC.