Top title participants since '08
Where Tide, Irish rank among 10 BCS title participants of last five seasons
Notre Dame and Alabama face off next week in the Discover BCS National Championship, and the matchup between historical powers is one of the most anticipated college football games in years. Notre Dame is the nation's only eligible undefeated team, and Alabama is the one-loss champion of the SEC. Both teams rank among the top 10 in all-time winning percentage, and no other schools claim more national titles than these programs.
On the field, the game is expected to be an epic defensive clash, featuring the top two scoring defenses in the nation. One hundred and one FBS teams gave up more points per game than Alabama (10.7 points per game surrendered) and Notre Dame (10.3 points) did combined. Neither offense is particularly flashy, but they've been efficient, especially Alabama's offense, which averages 3.3 points per drive, the seventh-best rate in the nation. Both offenses have logged strong rushing totals against top rushing defenses, but will face their toughest tests in the title game.
Unlike many other years in the BCS era, there is no controversy about this year's title game participants. But how do Notre Dame and Alabama compare to recent teams that played for the BCS championship?
We ranked the BCS title game participants of the past five seasons (2008 season through 2012 season) in order from 1-10, based on our drive-based, opponent-adjusted FEI ratings. (These overall ratings measure the opponent-adjusted efficiency of each team, its ability to generate value on its own possessions and limit the value generated by its opponent. The rankings don't take into account whether the team won the title game.)
Where do this year's Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide teams rank? And what does that mean for their head-to-head matchup on Monday? Let's take a look.
1. 2008 Florida GatorsOverall FEI rating: 0.356
Urban Meyer's second championship team tops our list, despite the Gators' loss to Ole Miss early in the year. Florida ripped off dominating wins down the stretch, including four victories over top-10 opponents by a combined 90 points. More than any other recent champion, Florida excelled in all three phases of the game, ranking third in opponent-adjusted offense, first in opponent-adjusted defense and second in special-teams efficiency.
To see the rest of the ranking of the 10 BCS title game participants of the last five seasons, you must be an ESPN Insider.
Brian FremeauESPN Insider
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com