Borderland Notre Dame fans pumped up for title game

EL PASO, Texas - No. 1 Notre Dame, which is facing No. 2 Alabama in the BCS title game, has quite a following in the Borderland.

That was evident two years when the Fighting Irish played in front of the biggest Hyundai Sun Bowl crowd ever.

It was also obvious Monday at Cathedral High School, home of El Paso's own Irish, how much the first national championship since 1988 for Notre Dame would mean to those that follow the Golden Domers.

A peek inside Cathedral Monday proved El Paso's Fighting Irish are fired up for the BCS national championship.

"It's huge," said Notre Dame graduate Amanda Murillo-Estrada, a religion teacher at Cathedral. "i'm very, very excited."

Murillo-Estrada admitted to appealing to a higher power for an Irish victory. And she wasn't the only one.

"I'm praying for god's will and hopefully that's a victory," said fellow Cathedral religion teacher Br. Mariano Lopez. "I'm excited, I'm nervous and it's one of those games where you're going to be at the edge of your seat the whole game. I wish I could be there."

Among the El Pasoans in Miami for the BCS Championship are 2001 Notre Dame graduate Chris Avila, former president of the Notre Dame Club of El Paso, who paid $1,500 for his ticket.

"There wasn't anything that was going to stop me from coming to Miami," Avila said. "I was nine the last time Notre Dame won the national championship."

Many Irish fans in El Paso believe Notre Dame's run to the national championship game began in the Sun Bowl when the Irish beat Miami two years ago.

"I absolutely think that the Sun Bowl victory two years ago was a big, big step in the right direction," Avila said.

Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas, a Cathedral graduate and lifelong Irish fan, is also in Miami for the title game.

"This isn't my first national championship game, but just happens to be one I have a little interest in," Olivas said. "The buzz is incredible. This is probably the biggest of all the championship games that I've been to."

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