Sometimes, the buildup to a game can overwhelm what actually happens on the field.

Certainly, No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama would have to play nothing less than a classic to live up to all the hype for Monday night's BCS championship.

Before either team stepped on the field in balmy South Florida, this was shaping up as one of the most anticipated games in years, college football's two most storied programs, glorified in movie and song, facing off for the biggest prize.

"It's definitely not any other game," said Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.

For the Crimson Tide (12-1), this is a chance to be remembered as a full-fledged dynasty. Alabama will be trying to claim its third national championship in four years and become the first school to win back-to-back BCS titles.

"To be honest, I think this team has kind of exceeded expectations," coach Nick Saban said Sunday. "If you look at all the players we lost last year, the leadership that we lost ... I'm really proud of what this team was able to accomplish."

That said, it's not a huge surprise to find Alabama playing for another title. That's not the case when it comes to Notre Dame.

Despite their impressive legacy, the Fighting Irish (12-0) weren't even ranked at the start of the season. But overtime wins against Stanford and Pittsburgh, combined with three other victories by a touchdown or less, gave Notre Dame a shot at its first national title since 1988.

After so many lost years, the golden dome has reclaimed its luster in coach Brian Kelly's third season.

"It starts with setting a clear goal for the program," Kelly said. "Really, what is it? Are we here to get to a bowl game, or are we here to win national championships? So the charge immediately was to play for championships and win a national championship."

Tickets are at a premium, with a seat in one of the executive suites going for $60,000 on StubHub the day before the game and even a less-than-prime spot in the corner of the upper deck being offered at $900.

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Ryan Aplin threw for 213 yards and a touchdown, J.D. McKissic caught 11 passes for 113 yards, and Arkansas State edged No. 25 Kent State 17-13 in Mobile, Ala.

The Red Wolves (10-3) earned their first bowl win since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1992. Kent State finished 11-3.

Staying in school: Quarterback Aaron Murray, who led Georgia to a 12-2 season, announced on his Twitter account that he will return for his senior year instead of entering the NFL draft. ... Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who had 94 catches for 1,323 yards this season, also said he will return for his senior year instead of entering the draft.