Two of the nation's most storied college football programs will matchup when Notre Dame and No. 25 Florida State meet in the Champs Sports Bowl Dec. 29.
The Seminoles and Fighting Irish bring a high-powered matchup to the Florida Citrus Bowl thanks to a pair of second-year coaches that have energized their respective fan bases.
The schools have met six times previously with the Seminoles holding a 4-2 edge. FSU also beat Notre Dame 31-26 in the 1996 Orange Bowl.
The Champs is normally a matchup of ACC and Big East schools, but has the option of selecting the independent Irish (8-4) one time over the life of the current four-year contract.
The Seminoles (8-4), representing the Atlantic Coast Conference, came into the year trailed by talk of possibly making a national title run. But after some early and late-season stumbles, coach Jimbo Fisher is focused on ensuring his team ends the year on a high note as it prepares to reload this offseason.
Fisher said his team is already embracing that mindset.
"I think it's a big thing of how you finish," he said on a teleconference Sunday night "….It's just ending on a great note, no matter what diversity you faced during the season."
FSU is looking for its fourth consecutive bowl victory and is making its third appearance in the Champs. FSU beat Wisconsin 42-13 in the 2008 Champs and beat Penn State in 1990 when it was known as the Blockbuster Bowl and playing in Miami.
The Irish (8-4) are making their first trip to Orlando and is looking for its second consecutive bowl win after beating Miami in the Sun Bowl last season.
"Any time you open up the season, you always have high expectations," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "Our football team had high expectations coming in. When some of things don't go your way, you look towards senior leaders and how they're going to respond. We're really proud of this football team and the way they've responded after a 0-2 start, similar with Jimbo's team."
It's already been a busy news cycle for Kelly the last few weeks.
Starting quarterback Tommy Rees was shaken up in the Irish's season-finale loss to Stanford. And this week, former starter Dayne Crist asked for permission to transfer after injuries lost him his starting job in the preseason.
"He knew he wanted to continue to play, and he was going to get that opportunity probably somewhere else," Kelly said of Crist.
Kelly said Rees will start the bowl game with Andrew Hendrix getting time as well.
While this matchup had been rumored for a few weeks, Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said it wasn't clear until early Sunday that they would be able to pair the Seminoles and Irish.
"We were happy with whatever came to us and we're happier to have such a game that has such a great reverence to it," he said.