Alabama Wins Rose Bowl And “Leaps” Into CFP National Title Game
While it may have been a cold 41 degrees on New Years Day outside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the action was fast and memorable on the football field inside. After a year in 2020 that was difficult on so many, the College Football Playoff kicked off 2021 with a bang on Friday afternoon.
The University of Alabama (12-0) defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2) by a final score of 31-14. The Rose Bowl was moved from Pasadena, California to Arlington, Texas due to Covid-19 concerns and numbers in the Pasadena area.
This game for Alabama began the way a majority of the games have begun, with a scoring drive, 7 plays and 79 yards would lead to a touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones to senior wide-receiver Davonta Smith. One of two touchdown catches in the first half for Smith. Statistically, Alabama had 38 straight wins coming into this game when scoring a touchdown on the game's first possession.
Additionally, coming into this game, Notre Dame's defense, among teams in the “Power 5” conferences, was ranked 15th in passing yards per attempt allowed, ninth in rushing yards per attempt allowed and third in points per game allowed this season. Notre Dame's defense had no answers for anything the Crimson Tide had to give offensively.
The play of the game happened in the 2nd quarter by senior running-back Najee Harris who leaped over graduate cornerback Nick McCloud and ran the ball for 53 yards.
"I actually try to tell him not to do that," Saban said. "He is great at timing that out because the smaller DB's try to cut tackle bigger players. But for Najee's size to be able to do what he did was very impressive for sure."
That would later set up a touchdown pass from Jones to sophomore tight-end Jaheel Billingsley and a 14 point lead which would cap off a 97 yard drive for Alabama, which is the second longest scoring drive in Rose Bowl history.
Notre Dame was able to finally stop the Alabama offense beginning the second half, but on Notre Dame's drive up the field sophomore linebacker Christian Harris intercepted a pass from senior quarterback Ian Book of Notre Dame. Alabama would receive the ball and go down the field and score on a toe-tap touchdown from Jones to Smith to put the lead at 28-7 in the 3rd quarter.
Notre Dame would add a score in the 4th quarter on a drive that had some fireworks from Alabama head coach Nick Saban who was penalized by the officials for a heated discussion. That would allow Notre Dame to cut the lead to 31-14. The Irish would recover an onside kick, but would be unable to score and Alabama will compete for the program's 28th National Championship on January 11th.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it without the QB or the team," Smith said. "I wouldn't have been able to get any of these awards or accomplishments without the team."
Devonta Smith would be named the game's MVP for his performance. 7 receptions for 130 yards and an Alabama record 3 touchdowns. Junior defensive-back Patrick Surtain II. would be awarded the game's defensive MVP. Surtain was all over the field and racked up 3 total tackles, including 2 solo tackles and 1 assisted tackle.
Alabama will play the winner of Ohio State and Clemson who face off on Friday night. Will it be a rematch between Alabama and Clemson? Or a 2015 rematch between Alabama and Ohio State?
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