Tonight's BCS National Championship promises to be one of the most watched college football games in history. Alabama is favored to defeat #1 ranked Notre Dame by nine or ten points according to the latest betting lines, and a narrow majority of sports fans believe they will prove victorious in this evening's highly touted match up.
An ESPN flash poll including the votes of more than 160,000 visitors shows Alabama as being the likely winner to the tune of a 56-44% margin. Another 43,000 from outside of the United States have also cast their vote on the topic with an almost identical 55-45% margin siding with the Crimson Tide.
While not scientific ESPN polling has been an effective barometer in measuring the preferences of sports fans over the years. An accompanying map, appearing quite similar to the electoral map of Presidential elections, is also included to show the break down of voting state by state. The Fighting Irish are actually predicted to be the winner by a majority of voters in thirteen states with Alabama the favored in thirty-four. The Crimson Tide also win 56% of the vote in Washington DC and another three states - New York, Connecticut, and South Dakota - are 50-50 and at this point too close to call.
In terms of the quasi-electoral vote Alabama would win in a landslide. 435-votes would roll for the Crimson Tide against just 64 for the Irish. 39 inconsequential votes meanwhile would hang in the balance.
Somewhat surprisingly the most pro-Notre Dame state is not their home of Indiana, which ranks second at 60%, but Hawaii where 62% of voters believe the Fighting Irish will win tonight's game. Overall belief in a Notre Dame victory is strongest in the northeast and western regions of the United States. With New York and Connecticut currently at a 50-50 split the rest of New England, except for Massachusetts, votes a majority in favor of the Irish. The Bay State itself is only 51-49% in favor Alabama meanwhile. The regional affinity for Notre Dame is perhaps understandable considering the disproportionate number of those with Irish heritage hailing from the northeast. The legendary team from South Bend Indiana has always had a strong Irish fan base.
On the other hand it's a bit more difficult to understand the western connection. Perhaps Notre Dame's modest backing in states such as Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and the Dakota has less to do with their popularity and more to do with an Alabama backlash.
The Crimson Tide as expected are strongest in the southeast with 80% of ESPN voters from their home state of Alabama believing they will win their second consecutive national championship, and third in the past four years. In addition to Alabama the Crimson Tide haul in a better than two-thirds "super majority" in eight other southern states; Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Coverage for tonight's game will begin at 8pm EST with kick off expected at 8:30pm.