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Alabama vs. Notre Dame, Rose Bowl 2021: Five keys to help you pick the playoff semifinal game


The 2021 #Rose #Bowl semifinal looks more like a one-sided nonconference game to open the season. #No. 1 #Alabama is a 20-point favorite over #No. 4 #Notre #Dame entering the game, according to #William #Hill #Sportsbook, which is the largest spread in the history of the #College #Football #Playoff.

A big win for #Alabama would be the only normal thing about the #Granddaddy being moved to #North #Texas. #It’s going to be weird watching the #Rose #Bowl in The #House #That #Jerry #Built. There will be #Miller #Lite signs instead of the #San #Gabriel #Mountains. The famous sunset? #Maybe if it’s portrayed on that giant AT&T #Stadium video board. The #Rose #Bowl was moved due to COVID-19 issues in #Southern #California that would not allow fans – even family members and friends – to attend the game. #Everybody made sacrifices this season. The CFP is no different.

#Star power is not lacking in this #Rose #Bowl. The game is likely to feature the #Heisman #Trophy winner. (#Alabama has two finalists and three of the top five vote-getters.) #It absolutely is featuring the #Butkus #Award winner (best linebacker) as well as 10 other #All-Americans combined on the two teams.

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#Alabama is expected to coast to its fifth CFP #National #Championship in seven seasons … but will it? The only way this season is a success for the #Tide is if they win it all. #Alabama is not only in competition with #Notre #Dame but with itself as well. The championship standard in the #Nick #Saban era started with the 2009 bunch. #That was #Saban’s only undefeated team. #This one is headed that way if it can get past this pesky CFP field.

“#It’s almost like you’re not really playing the guys #Alabama has [on the roster],” said #Notre #Dame linebacker #Jeremiah #Owusu-Koramoah, that #Butkus winner. “#It’s almost like you’re playing the franchise.”

#How true. #Let’s look at keys to the game as the #Fighting #Irish attempt to take down that #Crimson #Tide franchise on #Friday night.

1. #Big spread creates potential for big upset

#Given that #Notre #Dame is a 20-point underdog, it is therefore positioned to potentially earn the biggest upset in CFP history. #Coach #Brian #Kelly, for one, believes the #Irish have arrived even if they have shown a propensity for losing when the light gets brightest. “I don’t know why this narrative continues to pop up,” he said this week. #This being #Notre #Dame, the standards are different, so there is some work to be done. #Clemson exposed #Notre #Dame in their ACC #Championship #Game rematch, and there is a team speed disparity in this game, too.

#However, a win would truly wake up the echoes putting the #Irish within one game of first national championship in 32 years. #To get to the point of an upset, #Kelly must first convince his team they are capable of the upset. #Notre #Dame still owns the biggest win of the season over then-No. 1 #Clemson on #Nov. 7. #That was in #South #Bend, #Indiana, on a night when #Clemson was missing several defensive starters and quarterback #Trevor #Lawrence.

#Alabama is loaded. #If #Notre #Dame has any sort of leverage, it’s that it is what #Alabama used to be — run-based, defensive-minded and willing to play field position with an experienced quarterback in a short passing game. #That might be enough to jam up the #Tide’s gears. #An upset probably involves a defensive/special teams touchdown to swing momentum. Then, watch out. #Maybe. The #Irish are seventh nationally in time of possession.

#For this to happen, #Alabama must be a willing participant. #That’s another way of saying it must play down to the level of #Notre #Dame with turnovers and mistakes, which are completely out of character. #That’s what happened to #Clemson the regular-season loss. #It was beat up and got behind. #That’s how an upset begins to take shape.

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#Alabama has scored at least 35 points in 24 straight games. #If #Notre #Dame can get going some sort of bully ball, then it might have a chance. A #Notre #Dame win would be historic for another reason. #It would mark the most wins (44) over a four-year span. “#We have to keep in mind we’re a great team too,” safety #Kyle #Hamilton said.

2. #Alabama’s third-down success is unrivaled

The #Tide are winning games by more than 30 points. A championship rematch with #Clemson seems inevitable for #Alabama, but perhaps #Notre #Dame can find some success on that money down. #Alabama is leading the nation converting almost 60% of its third downs. #If that holds, it will be highest rate nationally in at least 11 years.

#Defensively, #Notre #Dame is sixth nationally allowing only 29% of third downs to be converted. #Something has to give. #Alabama is the nation’s second-highest scoring team averaging an impressive 1.62 points per minute of possession.

3. #Tide’s triplets may not need to dominate

#Former #Alabama center #Barrett #Jones brought it up to me a couple of weeks ago. #It’s possible the #Tide have the best quarterback (#Mac #Jones), wide receiver (#DeVonta #Smith) and running back (#Najee #Harris) in the game. #Certainly, a case can be made. The thing is that #Alabama can still win this game without those three being at 100%.

WR #John #Mechie III could start for anyone in the country. #Harris has proven himself more than an adequate receiver and pass blocker. #Jones’ “worst” game this season was arguably against #Arkansas. The #Razorbacks decided they were going to take away the deep pass. #For only the second time this season, #Jones didn’t throw a touchdown. #He threw for a season-low 208 yards. #Alabama won by 49.

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“#We’ve defended teams with one or two pieces,” #Notre #Dame defensive coordinator #Clark #Lea said.  “The compliment I’d give to #Alabama is it’s a strong unit. #You have to account for the best player but it’s not just one guy.”

4. #By the #Book

#We’ve gotten this far and failed the mention of the #Notre #Dame’s underrated threat at quarterback. #Senior #Ian #Book (30-4) trails only #Lawrence in career wins by active quarterbacks. #Only #Brady #Quinn has more passing yards at #Notre #Dame. #Only #Tony #Rice has more rushing yards by an #Irish QB.

#Book is underrated as a thrower, runner and a leader. #He’ll be overshadowed by #Jones, no doubt. #But in a league loaded with star quarterbacks, #Book was the quiet, efficient standard. #Look for him to go deep on early downs. #Book enters with a ratio of 15 passing touchdowns to two interceptions, and he’s scored four or more touchdowns in a single game twice this season.

5. #Defense can lead the way

#If #Notre #Dame is going to win, the defense shaped by a 38-year-old former #Vanderbilt fullback will be one of the main reasons. #Notre #Dame is #Lea’s sixth stop as an assistant coach since starting at #South #Dakota #State 14 years ago. #That starts with holding #Alabama to something less than its 49.7-point average. #Whenever the season ends, #Lea — in his third season as defensive coordinator — will matriculate to become #Vanderbilt’s head coach.

#Lea will leave having built back-to-back top 20 defenses for the #Irish. #Against #Alabama, the #Notre #Dame defensive line will play smash mouth with perhaps the best offensive line in the country. #Its corners better get used to playing physical press coverage against the #Alabama receivers. #Hamilton, one of those #All-Americans, holds it all together from his spot in the back. “#Kyle makes an impact just by being on the field. #Teams plan around him. #When he plays his best he becomes a difference maker for us,” cornerback #Nick #McCloud said.





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https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/alabama-vs-notre-dame-rose-bowl-2021-five-keys-to-help-you-pick-the-playoff-semifinal-game/

##Alabama ##Notre ##Dame ##Rose ##Bowl #keys #pick #playoff #semifinal #game

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