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#1 vs. #2

Nov 5, 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

When the Irish play Wake Forest tonight, it’s safe to say that much of the college football world will be focused on a different game. For the first time since Ohio State beat Michigan in 2006, the two top-ranked teams in the nation will meet in a regular season contest. Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa will host a showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama and many believe that the winner will have a direct path to January’s BCS championship game.

On Wednesday, ESPN counted down the top 10 games between No. 1 and No. 2 teams. Notre Dame appeared on that list four times, including the victories over Michigan and Florida State in 1989 and 1993, respectively, as well as the ties with Army in 1946 and Michigan State in 1966. This week’sย Sports Illustratedย also included the 1993 and 1966 games ranked third and fourth on their list of the top 5 regular season games between the nation’s top two teams.

It has been nearly 18 years since Notre Dame played in such a game, but the Irish have appeared in more of these top-ranked battles than any other team. Since the Associated Press began ranking teams in 1936, there have been 45 games between No. 1 and No. 2 squads. Notre Dame has played in nine of them and compiled a 5-2-2 record.

Here’s a complete look at Notre Dame’s history in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups:

Nov. 13, 1993 — No. 2 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Florida State 24
Sept. 16, 1989 — No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19
Nov. 26, 1988 — No. 1 Notre Dame 27, No. 2 Southern Cal 10
Sept. 28, 1968 — No. 1 Purdue 37, No. 2 Notre Dame 22
Nov. 19, 1966 — No. 1 Notre Dame 10, No. 2 Michigan State 10, tie
Nov. 9, 1946 — No. 1 Army 0, No. 2 Notre Dame 0, tie
Nov. 10, 1945 — No. 1 Army 48, No. 2 Notre Dame 0
Nov. 20, 1943 — No. 1 Notre Dame 14, No. 2 Iowa Pre-Flight 13
Oct. 9, 1943 — No. 1 Notre Dame 35, No. 2 Michigan 12

It remains to be seen if LSU and Alabama will live up to the hype of what could be a classic game, and while “Roll Tide” and “Geaux Tigers” will be the rally cry of the nation later tonight, Notre Dame fans should remain both hopeful and optimistic that it will not be long before “Go Irish” is heard far and wide in a game of this magnitude.

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