Notre Dame beat Pop Warner's Stanford team 27-10, and the trip from South Bend was "like a pilgrimage there and back,'' Sperber said.
After the 1925 season, Alabama was invited to make the trek from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Pasadena, Calif., for the Rose Bowl - a decision that was met with derision by some in the media and around college football, McNair said.
Regional pride ran high in those days, when the Civil War was still within memory for some, and there were hard feelings on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
In the Northeast, people "felt like there was just going to be a bunch of ragamuffins coming out there,'' McNair said.
"In those days southern football was not quite so mean and nasty as it is today, and Alabama was carrying the banner for the entire South.''
Alabama won the 1926 Rose Bowl 20-19 against Washington, went back to California in 1927 and tied Stanford 7-7. The Tide then won three more Rose Bowls from 1931-46, losing one.
When Wade left Alabama, he was replaced by Frank Thomas, a former Notre Dame quarterback who played for Rockne. "That was pretty big to get a guy from Notre Dame even then,'' McNair said.
Alabama hit hard times in the mid-1950s, but fixed its problems by bringing home one of its own. Bear Bryant played for Thomas in the 1930s and became a coaching star at Kentucky and Texas A&M. Under the Bear, Alabama dominated the Southeastern Conference and won six national championships between 1961-79.
"He was the face of college football,'' McNair said.
Bryant remains one of the most well-known figures in American sports, the houndstooth pattern of his famous hat turning up on just about everything in Tuscaloosa. And you don't have to be from Alabama - or even from the Deep South - to know "Roll Tide'' is more than just rally cry.
But he never beat Notre Dame in four tries. Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said that always stuck with Bryant, recounting a conversation he had with the late Hall of Fame coach when Bryant retired.
"He said, 'Aww, Coach, I'll be the guy that goes down as the guy that couldn't beat Notre Dame,''' Holtz said. "He wanted to beat Notre Dame so bad and he could never do it.''
The Irish kept on winning after Rockne. Four national titles in the 1940s, including three under Frank Leahy. Two more under Ara Parseghian (1966 and 1973) and another under Dan Devine in 1977.
Holtz won Notre Dame's last title in 1988 and two years later the school inked a television contract with NBC to become the first school to have its own network television deal.
Notre Dame still is the university of college football for many Americans, its symbols and landmarks giving the school a high profile even as its teams stumbled in recent years: the so-called "Touchdown Jesus'' mural looming over the north end zone of the football stadium; the golden helmets to match the golden dome atop the administration building. And, with "Knute Rockne All American'' and "Rudy,'' Hollywood has helped immortalize Notre Dame folklore.
Both Alabama and Notre Dame went through hard times in the 1990s and early 2000s, trying to find the right coach to restore the magic.
Nick Saban arrived in Alabama in 2007, and it's as if the Bear was back. The Tide has won two of the last three national championship and could become the first program to win three in four years since the BCS was implemented in 1998.
"I know there's a lot of national interest here because of two great programs that have tremendous tradition,'' Saban said as he stepped off Alabama's plane in Miami. "We certainly respect that on both sides.
"It's really a special game to be a part of.''
Brian Kelly took over in South Bend three years ago, and like Leahy, Parseghian and Holtz before him, he has a chance to win a national title in his third season - against Alabama, no less.
The Fighting Irish against the Crimson Tide, a marquee matchup in any era.