Updated Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 01:31 AM
ATLANTA — The national championship might be decided with a dream matchup between two of the sport's most storied programs: Notre Dame versus Alabama.
Of course, Georgia might have something to say about that. The third-ranked Bulldogs are eager to wake up some echoes of their own.
Coach Mark Richt's team will take on No. 2 Alabama in a Southeastern Conference title game that essentially serves as a national semifinal. The winner of Saturday's game at the Georgia Dome is a virtual lock to land a spot against top-ranked Notre Dame in the Bowl Championship Series title game Jan. 7 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Alabama is listed as a 7 ½-point favorite to remain on course for its third title in four years. Georgia's last national championship was in 1980.
"We respect and honor those guys that played ahead of us, but we really need to give the fans something else to talk about," Bulldogs linebacker Christian Robinson said. "If that's all we have to talk about, we must not be doing anything special."
The programs are mirror images, with the same 11-1 record and boots-on-the-ground SEC mentality.
"There's not a whole lot of tricks or gimmicks with us or them," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Asked why Alabama and Georgia are the one-loss teams that deserve to play for a national title, Richt replied, "Because that's where the BCS voted us. I don't know, there's a formula and here we are."
Northern Illinois wins
DETROIT — Quarterback Jordan Lynch ran for three touchdowns, including a 2-yarder in the second overtime, and Demetrius Stone's interception in the end zone gave No. 19 Northern Illinois a 44-37 victory over No. 18 Kent State in the Mid-American Conference championship game Friday.
Northern Illinois (12-1) is ranked 21st in the BCS standings and would get a berth in one of the marquee BCS bowls if it makes a dramatic jump to the top 16 in the standings that will be released Sunday.
Kent State (11-2) is ranked No. 17 in the BCS standings.
The Golden Flashes tied the score at 34 with 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter, as Tim Erjavec caught a 19-yard pass from Spencer Keith.
Northern Illinois outgained Kent State 524-260 and earned its second consecutive MAC title.
Lynch rushed for 160 yards and has 1,771 this season, a record for a quarterback. Michigan's Denard Robinson set the previous record of 1,702 in the 2010 season.
• Minnesota State-Mankato coach Todd Hoffner, sidelined since August by accusations of child pornography involving his own children, reacted with relief when a judge dismissed the case.
Krista Jass, Blue Earth County district judge, agreed with the 46-year-old Hoffner's assertion that innocent family videos of the children dancing and playing naked had been misinterpreted.