After surviving 2020, No. 1 Alabama will look to start the new year on the right foot as it takes on No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl on Friday at 3 p.m. CT inside of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Here are five questions to consider leading up to the matchup.
Back-to-back media days have spawned a surplus of questions heading into this week’s Rose Bowl.
Can Notre Dame’s defense figure out a way to slow down DeVonta Smith and Alabama’s historically potent offense?
Will the Tide’s rejuvenated pass rush continue its recent surge against an Irish offensive line up for the Joe Moore Award?
How will Najee Harris fare against Butkus Award winner Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah?
How about this one: Will the game even be close?
Las Vegas doesn’t seem to think so. Alabama is currently a 20-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com. And if betting lines aren’t your thing, history doesn’t bode well for a close matchup either.
Since the creation of the College Football Playoff in 2014, there have been 12 semifinal games. Eight of them have been decided by 17 points or more while only three have been decided by one score.
Sure, there have been some thrillers. Georgia’s 54-48 double-overtime victory over Oklahoma in 2018 was a classic, while last year’s Fiesta Bowl came down to the wire. However, most of the semifinal matchups have been duds.
“I can’t really explain — I think a lot of games in college football, it’s not like the NFL where most games or just 70 percent of the games are decided by a touchdown or less,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said when broached on the topic. “It seems in college football the teams that can score points usually fare well in games like this.”
If that’s the case, Alabama should be set. No one scores as much as the Tide, which averages 49.7 points a game — 14.5 points higher than Notre Dame’s average.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly believes his current team is “much better prepared” for a matchup against Alabama than the squad that fell 42-14 to the Tide in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. We’ll see Friday, but history suggests not to hold your breath.
Recognition can be hard to come by for offensive linemen, so it’s easy to understand why this is a big matchup for Alex Leatherwood and the rest of the Tide’s line.
While the SEC Championship Game served as a Heisman showcase between Alabama’s Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith and Florida’s Kyle Trask, the Rose Bowl could help decide a different award. Alabama and Notre Dame are joined by Texas A&M as the three finalists for this year’s Joe Moore Award given to the nation’s top offensive line.
The opportunity is not lost on Leatherwood and the Tide, who hope to make a statement come Friday night.
#BamaInsider #questions #heading #Alabamas #Rose #Bowl #matchup #Notre #Dame