The Alabama Crimson Tide took control of the relocated Rose Bowl Game early and they cruised to a 31-14 victory against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Quarterback Mac Jones completed 25/30 passes for 297 yards and threw four touchdown passes. Three of the four touchdown tosses went to wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The Heisman Trophy front-runner finished the afternoon with 130 receiving yards along with the aforementioned three touchdown receptions.
“Well, my performance, I wouldn’t be able to do it without my quarterback, offensive line, running backs, just the whole team,” explained Smith during the post game press conference. “Defense getting me prepared for the game today. I wouldn’t be able to do none of it without them.”
Alabama jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Notre Dame after the first quarter. Running back Najee Harris provided the highlight of the first half when he hurdled Nick McCloud as he ran for 53 yards.
“I actually try to teach him not to do it, and it didn’t work,” said Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. “Anyway, for a big guy, it’s pretty amazing that he can do that. He’s kind of got a great feel when a guy is going to try to cut him, which a lot of guys, smaller DBs, all try to cut tackle, bigger backs. When he sees that head go down, man, he’ll go over top of them in a heartbeat. It’s been very effective for him.”
Notre Dame’s offensive attack was methodical. Running back Kyren Williams ran it in from one-yard out to get the Fighting Irish on the board in the second quarter. However, with Notre Dame’s strength being the offensive line, they attempted to establish the run. However, Alabama kept getting off the field on third downs. Also, Notre Dame failed to score in the red zone when the outcome was still in doubt.
“The margin is not the issue. Losing is losing,” explained Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly after the loss. “I don’t really know what the inference is. When you lose football games, you know, there’s a few more plays that you have to make. We had the opportunity. You watched the game. I watched the game.
We did not score in the red zone when we had opportunities. We moved the ball into the red zone. We missed a field goal. We had two opportunities in the red zone to score, where this would be a competitive football game. And we didn’t make enough plays.”
With the win, the Alabama Crimson Tide advanced to their seventh National Championship game under Saban’s leadership, winning five of their previous six appearances. If the Tide wins Monday, Jan. 11, Saban will pass Bear Bryant with seven total national titles, winning six while at Tuscaloosa.
Nobody on the Tide is focused on individual accolades. The accolade they want the most is handed out at Hard Rock Stadium.
“You know, it’s always good to win a game like this, especially being that it’s a playoff game. It’ll be my first opportunity to be able to play in a National Championship,” said Alabama linebacker Christian Harris.
But you know, it’s all good. We didn’t really play the way we wanted to. I felt like we could have done a lot more. We left a lot more out on the field, so we’ve just got to make sure we redeem ourselves and fix that for next week or whenever, the 11th.”