The 1974 Alabama squad finished the regular season with an 11–0 record and as conference champions. Following their victory over Mississippi State, Orange Bowl officials announced Alabama accepted an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl in a rematch of the previous year's Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame. The appearance marked the seventh for Alabama in the Orange Bowl, and their 28th overall bowl game appearance.
The 1974 Notre Dame squad finished the regular season with a 9–2 record with losses coming against Purdue and USC. Following their victory over Navy, Orange Bowl officials announced an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl was made to Notre Dame in a rematch of the previous year's Sugar Bowl against Alabama. The appearance marked the second for Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, and their sixth overall bowl game appearance. The contest was also notable as being Ara Parseghian's final game as Notre Dame head coach as he announced his resignation from the position December 15.
Midway through the first quarter, Alabama's Willie Shelby fumbled a punt that was recovered by Notre Dame's Al Samuel at the Crimson Tide 16-yard line. Five plays later, the Irish scored on a 4-yard Wayne Bullock touchdown run to take a 7–0 lead. Their lead was extended to 13–0 midway through the second quarter after Mark McLane scored on a 9-yard touchdown run to cap a 17-play, 77-yard drive. A 21-yard field goal by Danny Ridgeway cut the lead to 13–3 at the half. After a scoreless third, the Crimson Tide scored a late touchdown on a 48-yard Richard Todd touchdown pass to Russ Schamun, and with a successful two-point conversion closed the gap to 13–11. After a defensive stop, Alabama again got the ball on offense and was driving for a game-winning score when Todd threw an interception to Reggie Barnett effectively ending the comeback for the Tide.