The 1973 Alabama squad finished the regular season with an 11–0 record, as conference champions and as national champions as determined by the Coaches' Poll. Following their victory over Auburn, university officials announced they accepted an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl. The appearance marked the sixth for Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, their 27th overall bowl game appearance and their first all-time meeting against Notre Dame.
The 1973 Notre Dame squad finished the regular season with an 10–0. Following their victory over Miami, university officials announced they accepted an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl. The appearance marked the first for Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, and their fifth overall bowl game appearance.
Notre Dame opened the scoring with a Wayne Bullock 6-yard touchdown run, and after a missed extra point took an early 6–0 lead. In the second quarter, Alabama took the lead on a 6-yard Randy Billingsley touchdown run, only to see the Irish go up 14–7 on the following play. On the ensuing kickoff, was returned 93-yards for a touchdown by Al Hunter. The Tide cut the lead to 14–10 late in the quarter on a 39-yard Bill Davis field goal. In the third quarter, the teams traded touchdowns with Alabama scoring first on a 5-yard Wilbur Jackson touchdown run and Notre Dame on a 12-yard Eric Penick touchdown run to make the score 21–17 entering the final period. After quarterback Richard Todd made a 25-yard touchdown reception from Mike Stock on a beautiful trick play, Davis missed the extra point to only put Alabama up 23–21. The Irish responded with a 19-yard field goal by Bob Thomas to take the lead 24–23 with 4:26 remaining in the game. Late in the 4th quarter Alabama pinned Notre Dame back deep in Irish territory with a punt, hoping to get the ball back within easy range of a game-winning field goal, however, on third and long Irish QB Tom Clements connected with backup TE Robin Weber on a long pass that gave the Irish a first down and allowed them to run out the clock. With their victory, the Associated Press awarded the Irish the national championship in ranking them #1 in their final poll.