In the first College Football Playoff semifinal matchup on New Year’s Day, the 10-1 Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will battle the 11-0 Alabama Crimson Tide inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff for the Rose Bowl Presented by Capital One is at 4:00 P.M. Eastern.
The last meeting between these two historic programs came in January 2013 when the Tide rolled over the Irish in the BCS National Championship, 42-14. The winner of this year’s tilt earns the right to play for the title yet again.
NOTRE DAME OUTLOOK
Notre Dame joined the ACC for the 2020 season, the first time the program has played conference games in its 114-year history, due to the pandemic. They ran the table in the regular season, defeating a Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson team along the way in double overtime. However, once they reached the ACC Championship, the Irish were dominated by the Tigers, with Lawrence under center, in the rematch.
That 2013 loss to the Tide was the last championship appearance for the Irish, and their last CFP semifinal ended similarly when Clemson ended their season with a convincing 30-3 beating.
Notre Dame has won 41 regular-season games over the past four seasons, the most in a four-year stretch in school history, and they’re one of only five schools to make CFP appearances in multiple seasons, joining Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.
The Tide steamrolled through their regular season, becoming the first SEC program to go 10-0 in conference play, scoring at least 50 points in four of their last five and capping it off with a shootout win over Florida in the SEC Championship. This is the sixth time the Tide will appear in the College Football Playoff out of seven opportunities.
Alabama is led by their three-headed monster on offense: QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris, and WR DeVonta Smith. Smith and Jones were joined by Florida’s Kyle Trask and Clemson’s Lawrence as the four Heisman finalists, with Harris finishing just outside the Top 4 in the number 5 position.
One setback the Tide will have to overcome is the loss of center Landon Dickerson, who suffered a knee injury against the Gators and will miss the rest of the postseason. Dickerson has started every game over the last two seasons for Nick Saban’s team.
BETTING LINE AND PICK
Alabama is favored in the Rose Bowl by 20, with an over/under of 65.5. It’s the biggest spread in the history of any CFP semifinal or championship game. The Tide held the previous record when they laid 15 against Oklahoma in 2018. In their last meeting in the BCS title game, ‘Bama was a 10-point favorite, covering easily after scoring the game’s first 35 points.
The Rose Bowl will mark the 79th straight game where Alabama is installed as the betting favorite, the longest active streak in the FBS, and they’re 7-1 ATS over its last eight games as a favorite, as well as 6-1 ATS over its past seven as a double-digit favorite.
Notre Dame is 9-3 ATS against ranked teams since 2018 and 4-1 ATS vs. teams with winning records this season. The Irish should score some points, but not enough to hang with the top offense in the land.
Betting Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide (-20)
Bonus Pick: Alabama Team Total (OVER 42.5)