Few people gave #4 Notre Dame much of a chance against #1 Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Friday afternoon. The Crimson Tide were a 19.5 point favorite, the largest in College Football Playoff history, and while they didn’t cover, they proved why they were favored so thoroughly in their comprehensive 31-14 victory.

After Notre Dame punted on their first drive, Alabama marched down the field and scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Mac Jones to Devonta Smith. The Irish punted again, and the Crimson Tide again motored the length of the field to score, with Jones passing to Jahleel Billingsley for the score this time. That drive was highlighted by a 55-yard run by Najee Harris, featuring Harris hurdling a Notre Dame defender.

The Irish clearly needed a response down 14-0, and got it after Kyren Williams ran it in from a yard out to cap off a 15 play, 75 yard drive.

But that would be as close as it got. The Tide scored for a third time in the half following the touchdown, with Jones completing his second TD pass of the day to Smith to make it 21-7.

And that would just about be that. Notre Dame couldn’t score to close out the half, and Alabama turned a third quarter interception by Ian Book into a third Jones to Smith touchdown. After a Fighting Irish punt, Alabama added a field goal to increase their lead to 31-7. Notre Dame would make the final score look closer than it was when Book ran for a touchdown with under a minute left in the game, which is how we got to the 31-14 final score.

Smith was named the offensive player of the game thanks to his Rose Bowl record-tying three touchdown catches, to go along with 130 yards receiving on seven receptions. Jones threw for four total touchdowns and 303 yards, completing 26 of his 31 passes. Harris added 125 yards on the ground on just 15 carries. Book did not shine for Notre Dame, going 27/38 through the air for 229 yards, zero touchdowns, and a pick. He also rushed for 55 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

The Crimson Tide await the winner of Friday night’s Sugar Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson. The Rose Bowl victory is Alabama’s seventh in the Playoff, the most of any team, and they’ll be playing in their fifth championship game. Clemson has also won six playoff games and has appeared in four championships, while Ohio State, winners of the inaugural championship game in 2014, hasn’t won a playoff game since their pair of wins in that first playoff.

As for Notre Dame, this was their second playoff loss in as many appearances. This year wasn’t as bad as 2018, when Clemson whooped the Irish 30-3, but it’s still a disappointing finish to what looked like such a promising season heading into the ACC Championship.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.