The 2021 Rose Bowl semi-finals take place on New Year’s Day and although there is a different feel about the NCAA spectacle, a top-notch contest is still expected between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Friday’s contest marks the 107th edition of the Rose Bowl game, which was first won by Michigan back in 1902, and it will be the first playing of the Rose Bowl outside of Pasadena in California since 1942, in a move prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
In early December it was announced that the bowl would be contested behind closed doors without fans, due to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders in response to COVID-19, with the contest set for the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas instead.
Different times call for different measures but the change in venue will not take anything away from the College Football extravaganza, with Alabama and Notre Dame going head-to-head.
Top Seeds to Set Up Miami Gardens Trip
Alabama are the number one ranked side this season and they have been demolishing others along the way, having beaten opposition by an average of 30 points per game.
The Crimson Tide are averaging 49.7 points scored per game, leaving them second in the country, and they secured their place in the Rose Bowl with a 52-46 victory over Florida.
From October 31 to December 12, Alabama went 5-0, outscoring opponents 253-36, and it is no surprise to see them massive
1/20 favourites to book their place in the National Championship game, where the winner of the Sugar Bowl awaits.
Duo Leading Alabama Charge
QB Mac Jones and WR DeVonta Smith have been integral to Alabama’s impressive season and the two Heisman finalists make up the best QB-WR combination in college football.
Jones has thrown for 3,739 yards and 32 touchdowns, being picked off just four times, while Smith has a stunning 98 catches for 1,511 yards and 17 TDs.
With this scoring power available to The Crimson Tide, it may be worth looking at the handicap market, with Alabama
4/5 to win at -19.5.
Fighting Irish to Put up Staunch Battle
While all the plaudits have come the way of Alabama, Notre Dame have also looked good and they defeated nine ACC teams and one non-conference program during the regular season, before losing to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
QB Ian Book has deservedly received praise for his performances and he has 201 completions from 314 attempts, throwing for 2,601 yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Also impressing this season has been RB Kyren Williams, who has rushed 195 times for 1,061 yards this season and scored 13 TDs, making him a powerful weapon to use.
If Notre Dame, who are
19/2 to win, are going to have any chance of upsetting the odds, then they need Williams to be on top form and chalk up at least a couple of TDs in the contest.
History on Notre Dame’s Side
On a positive note for the Fighting Irish, of the six meetings against The Crimson Tide it is Notre Dame that lead the series 5-1, although the most recent of those wins came way back in 1987.
Lou Holtz, in his second year with the Irish, beat the Tide 37-6 in South Bend to start Alabama’s slide to end the season.
A sixth win looks unlikely, but never say never when it comes to the Rose Bowl.
*All odds correct at time of writing.