Rose Bowl first look: Can Notre Dame keep the Crimson Tide from rolling?
The Crimson Tide rolls into January with an 11-0 record and two wins between coach Nick Saban and his sixth national title.
No. 1 Alabama was tabbed for Texas and the Rose Bowl game in the College Football Playoff semifinal against No. 4 Notre Dame.
Notre Dame lost in the ACC championship game to Clemson and the Fighting Irish (10-1) have a good idea of what it will take to make it to the Jan. 11 championship game.
“When you don’t play up to your level, you open it up to somebody else making the decision,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Sunday. “Our body of work was outstanding. Played good football all year. Just didn’t play with the same edge against a very good Clemson team. And by the way, if you didn’t know this, Trevor Lawrence is pretty good.”
Another top quarterback, Mac Jones, is a likely Heisman Trophy finalist and has Alabama’s offense flying high. Jones had 32 touchdown passes with four interceptions this season.
Opening line: Alabama -17.5
When and where: Jan. 1, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, ESPN
Why Alabama could win: The Crimson Tide aren’t untouchable. But Saban has 12 days to prep for a solid Notre Dame defense with a quick-strike attack while also devising a way to put pressure on the Irish. Notre Dame has a strong, polished offensive line.
Why Notre Dame could win: Florida was successful throwing punches with Alabama and wasn’t afraid to go over the top. Ian Book is 30-4 as a starter and has nine career games with at least four touchdowns accounted for through the air or on the ground, though Alabama’s defense can be lethal. Book has 22 total touchdowns (14 passing, eight rushing) and one interception in the past 10 games.
Get to know: Alabama center Landon Dickerson is done for the season. He suffered a season-ending left knee injury in the SEC title game on Saturday and filling his shoes won’t be easy. The Crimson Tide have depth — meaning options — but there’s no underselling the task for Alabama in replacing the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Dickerson. Alabama’s offense is all about timing. But also execution. The Crimson Tide outgained opponents by an average of more than 180 yards per game.
Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah could be on the all-name team but he’s also one of the most productive players on the field regardless of competition. A Butkus and Nagurski finalist, the player known at Notre Dame as “Six” (his jersey number) gets big praise from peers and counterparts. Clemson sophomore linebacker Mike Jones said of “Six” this week: “He’s a baller. He’s a dog. For real. Man makes plays,” Jones said. “He’s fast, he plays physical. He’s got it all, man, He’s athletic. I’ve seen him make some good plays on the ball. The dude just makes plays.”
Our prediction: Alabama 36, Notre Dame 22
–Field Level Media