After nearly four and a half months, 12 (or 13) regular season weeks, the conference championship games and 34 bowl games, we have reached the end of the 2012 college football season. Alabama and Notre Dame will be playing for the National Championship tonight, with kickoff of the title game scheduled for just after 5pm Pacific time.
I am going to keep things short here - you can check out our fellow SBN blogs Roll 'Bama Roll for the Alabama take on tonight's game, and One Foot Down for the leadup from Notre Dame's point of view, as well as the main SBNation coverage of the game.
This is a battle between a couple of the historically elite programs: Alabama seeks to further the SEC's dominance at the top of the college football world while establishing their own modern dynasty with a 3rd national championship under Nick Saban. Notre Dame is trying to to regain the degree of national prominence and respect that an exclusive TV deal with NBC just can't provide. A Notre Dame win also serves to annoy the trogan family, giving the Domers' 1/2 more national championship than Southern Cal can claim in this century,
Much of the Bruins Nation can remember (or if lucky, repressed the memories of) the last time that UCLA had a shot to play for the national championship; the 1998 campaign that ended one game short of the inaugural BCS Championship game on an evening in Miami. That old Orange Bowl stadium is gone, but tonight's game shares that South Florida geography, being played just up I-95 at (whatever corporation has attached its name to Joe Robbie) Sun Life Stadium.
While watching tonight's game, it won't be too hard to imagine the Bruins earning a spot on that field playing for the BCS trophy in the near future. Whether you think Coach Mora is the real deal or are still feeling a bit cautious about him, his first year in charge has refreshed the nation's consciousness of UCLA's standing as one of the top football programs.
But as we think of an optimistic near-future for UCLA Football, don't forget to enjoy the present. Coverage is on ESPN - the pregame show is on now, with game coverage starting at 5pm. This is your National Championship game open thread.