For even casual college football fans, No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Notre Dame stands out as a classic matchup for the national title.

While the schools may seem like opposites — one in the South and the other in the North, one public and one private — football historians say their stories have some similarities.

Both Notre Dame and Alabama broke into the ranks of football's elite in the 1920s, beating Ivy League teams to gain attention. Both faced adversity — Alabama from fans and media outside the South, Notre Dame from colleges that wouldn't schedule a Catholic school.

But, says historian and author Dan Jenkins, both schools have had "a bunch of gods coaching them" and their track record of victories speaks for itself.