The No. 1 seed Alabama returned to the College Football Playoff for the fifth time in six seasons after dominating fourth place on Notre Dame 31-14 in the 2021 Rose Bowl semi-final on Friday. Crimson Tide led up to 24 points in the fourth quarter before Fighting Irish scored in the last minute of the match.
Throughout the season, Tide had one of the nation’s best offenses with midfielder McJohns and broad future DeVonta Smith ending the year as a Heisman Trophy finalist and three other players (retreating from Najee Harris, tackling Alex Leatherwood and injured midfielder Landon Dick) earning AP First Team Honors. All-America. That unit outlived the noise level even against one of the best defenses in the country, totaling 437 yards at a rate of 7.9 yards per game.
Jones was instrumental in directing the group that completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, while Smith showed why the betting markets made him the favorite to win Hesman with 130 yards and three touchdowns on seven receptions. Smith, nicknamed the Offensive MVP of the Rose Bowl, literally as a road runner and consistently won one-on-one fights against Notre Dame defenders. Even when the play does not require anything special on the field, Smith creates a yard-after-hunt effect, as in this 26-yard drop from a screen pass.
The entire Smith touchdown roller can entertain us for hours, but the play we’ll be talking about for years is Survivor Harris’ hurdle at 53 yards in the first quarter. Harris finished the game at 125 yards on 15 cart.
The play is incredible from his 230-pound height to the way he maintains his steps when his feet are back in the grass. But what is even better is how you achieve the hurdle He asked soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Harris discussed his admiration for Rabinoy during a Game Week press conference and she responded with discretion and a hitch request. Less than 15 minutes into the match, Harris managed to reach the barrier.
Notre Dame seems to have a great answer to an early hole 14-0 through 15 games, 75 yards, which took 8:03 hours of the match and finished with a score of fourth and goal. The Irish were methodical and efficient, but it all seemed in vain when Alabama took the ball 84 yards the other way to land in a flight that lasted less than three minutes. In fact, all of Alabama’s top three engines ended in decline and collectively took less time per hour than the only Notre Dame engine through the end of the fourth quarter.
The Irish also threatened to score again in the game’s final after recovering a kick to the other side, but the tide blocked a pass from QB Ian Book into the finish area. The book completed 27 of 39 passes for 229 yards with interception, but also combined a 55-yard dash and landing on the ground.
Although the post-match stats were poorly in Alabama’s favor, which only led to Notre Dame 437-375 in yardage gross, the tide was in firm control throughout the match and was never in danger of being defeated.
They will play in the CFP National Championships for the fifth time in the event’s seven-year history, while the Irish are dropping to 0-7 in the BCS or Six New Year’s Cup games since 1998 and are outperforming an average of 23 points in those games.
Alabama are looking to win their third national title in six seasons and the sixth since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.
CBS Sports has been with you all the way to update this story with the latest in Rose Bowl. Keep it locked here for takeaways from the Alabama vs Notre Dame match.
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