Local Irish fans are in south Florida to see #1 ranked Notre Dame take on 2nd seeded Alabama in the BCS national title championship.
Tons of people wore big smiles, and Notre Dame shirts and hats boarded flights Saturday at the South Bend Regional Airport making their way down to see the game.
Delta Airlines and United Express both had flights that left Saturday out of South Bend with connections to Miami.
Sue Kobek and Pat Primmer, long time friends from South Bend, were wearing Notre Dame shirts and big smiles and they, along with their families, prepared to board a flight to Hollywood, Florida. They scored tickets to the game through one of the University lotteries.
Kobek works at the university, while Primmer has a master's degree from Notre Dame.
"Born and raised Irish fans," said Kobek.
The pair also went to Dublin, Ireland earlier this year to watch the team beat Navy.
"It's been a wonderful season!"
The ladies boarded a flight this morning and have two connections before arriving in Hollywood, Florida later today.
"I wasn't sure what to pack, jacket, no, flip flops yes," Kobek added.
The ladies plan on attending several of the alumni events this weekend, including a pep rally and a party at the Jackie Gleason Theatre near Miami Beach.
Dozens of people woke up early to get on flights headed to Florida to be a part of what many describe as a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Merlyn & Kelly Bellinger purchased their flight and hotel reservations more than a month ago. It wasn't until Christmas that they got tickets, "thanks to Santa," says Kelly Bellinger.
"Didn't sleep at all last night, just excited to get the trip going and bring home a championship," said Merlyn.
The couple says many of their friends heading to Miami don't even have tickets. Some are hoping to buy them there, others will be content with watching the game at the local bars.
"They just want to be close to the action," said Merlyn.
"I'm pumped up, I'm gonna be about six rows up, so I don't know I'm very pumped up," said lifelong Irish fan, Andy Gillespie. Gillespie got his ticket as a gift. "The best gift ever, well as long as they win," he said. "I hope the Irish go down there and just cream them," said Jim Meisenhelder. Jim's wife, Mary Jo, broke her arm on Christmas Eve, but that's not stopping her from flying down to Miami to cheer on the Irish. "We have a football family that's part of our lives, so we are part of the Notre Dame football family. We're very excited to be part of all this," she said.
"It just goes back to the old days, bring Notre Dame back to where they used to be where they have a lot of respect in their football program," Jim said.
With the gate about to close, the last few passengers made their way through security to board the plane, bound for Miami and confident Notre Dame will beat Alabama. "Irish is gonna go down there and show those southern boys a little thing or two about football," said Gillespie.
There was so much demand for flights to Miami, Delta Airlines added a direct flight Saturday afternoon at 1:30. The average seat cost just over $1,000 and as of early Saturday morning only 6 seats were left.
We have a crew in Miami covering the championship game. You can see those reports every day on WSBT News. And leading up to the game we have the second of two specials looking back at this extraordinary season. On Monday night, we'll have our "Road to the Championship: Undefeated...Unfinished." That special will air live from Miami on Monday at 7.