clearn.png
Thursday October 21st, 2021 8:53PM

Roll Tide! No. Alabama beats Notre Dame 31-14 in Rose Bowl

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Alabama rolled into another College Football Playoff championship game.

DeVonta Smith caught three of fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones' four touchdown passes, Najee Harris ran for 125 yards with a high-hurdling highlight and top-ranked Alabama beat No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the relocated Rose Bowl on Friday to reach its fifth CFP title game.

While the location for this Rose Bowl was truly untraditional, the Crimson Tide (12-0, No. 1 CFP) playing for the national title is a common occurrence in seven seasons of the CFP.

“I don't think there’s anything quite like the Rose Bowl, the tradition, the setting, the mountains. It's just a phenomenal experience ... which our players had gotten that opportunity,” coach Nick Saban said.

But Saban and the Tide will take yet another win in the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, which the coach called one of college football's finest venues, and moving on in the playoff.

Notre Dame (10-2, No. 4 CFP), in football's final four for only the second time, has lost seven consecutive New Year's Six games since 2000.

Alabama led 14-0 after scoring the first two times it had the ball, including an 97-yard drive on which Harris leaped over 6-foot cornerback Nick McCloud just after crossing the line of scrimmage, landed on both feet and then sprinted for a 53-yard gain before getting run out of bounds.

“I actually try to teach him not to do it, and it didn’t work,” Saban said, laughing. “Anyway, for a big guy, it’s pretty amazing that he can do that.”

Jones, who completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards, threw a 12-yard TD pass to tight end Jahleel Billingsley on the next play.

That touchdown came between drives when Smith, who has 16 touchdown catches in his last seven games, turned short passes into scores of 26 and 34 yards. Smith finished with seven catches for 130 yards, added a nifty toe-tapping 7-yarder in the front corner of the end zone right on the pylon in the middle of the third quarter.

The Crimson Tide earned a spot in the Jan. 11 championship game in Miami, against No. 2 Clemson again or No. 3 Ohio State — the Tigers and Buckeyes played in the other CFP semifinal at the Sugar Bowl on Friday night. Alabama missed the CFP last year for the only time since the four-time playoff debuted at the end of the 2014 season.

CFP officials moved the Rose Bowl about 1,400 miles because of COVID-19 restrictions in California that would have kept family — or any fans — from attending the game at its normal home in Pasadena. There was a limited capacity crowd of 18,373 at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, just a bit higher than attendance for the Cotton Bowl game played there two days earlier when Oklahoma beat Florida 55-20.

It was another thud of a finish for the Fighting Irish winning all 10 regular-season games, including a home victory over Clemson. But Notre Dame then lost 34-10 in the ACC title game to the Tigers.

“Today was about making the plays. They made them on the perimeter. Their skill players showed up today as they have all year,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “We battled. I thought we did some of the things that we wanted to today but we simply didn’t make enough plays.”

Notre Dame lost 30-3 to Clemson in the CFP semifinal Cotton Bowl two years ago, that was also played at the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. It was the first time the Irish had played Alabama since the Tide beat them 42-14 in the BCS national championship game eight seasons ago.

While the Alabama defense kept quarterback Ian Book scrambling, the Tide offense was rolling from the outset. Book, the winningest starting QB ever for the Irish at 30-5, completed 27 of 39 passes for 229 yards and only his third interception this season.

Alabama's opening seven-play, 79-yard drive ended with Smith making his first catch in the left flat, then sprinting past and through defenders along the sideline for a 26-yard score. After the second-longest scoring drive in Rose Bowl history when Billingsley scored, Alabama drove 84 yards with Smith making a catch on a crossing route for the 34-yard score.

The closest Notre Dame got was 14-7 when Kyren Williams plunged in from a yard out on a fourth-down play early in the second quarter to cap a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took just over eight minutes.

THE TAKEAWAY

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have gone 32 seasons since winning their last national title with a 12-0 record under Lou Holtz in 1988. The Irish were down only 21-7 when they got the ball for the first time in the second half. But any chance to get some momentum evaporated when Book threw an interception when under pressure, and Alabama turned that into another TD catch for Smith.

Alabama: The outcome really wasn't unexpected with Alabama entering the game as a three-TD favorite. Alabama is 5-0 at AT&T Stadium, with a pair of convincing CFP semifinal wins there. Alabama beat Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl five seasons ago.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame goes into another offseason still trying to figure out how to close the gap. The Irish play their 2021 season opener Sept. 5 at Florida State.

Alabama gets a chance to win its sixth national title in coach Nick Saban's 14 seasons in the CFP national championship game.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - College Football, AP Sports - College Playoffs, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Roll Tide! No. Alabama beats Notre Dame 31-14 in Rose Bowl
Alabama is rolling into another College Football Playoff championship game
7:48PM ( 12 minutes ago )
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson entering NFL draft
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is entering the NFL draft
6:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
No. 6 Cincinnati comes up short as unbeaten season ends
Cincinnati came oh so close to toppling a Power 5 opponent on a big stage
6:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Chargers' Keenan Allen on reserve/COVID-19 list
The Los Angeles Chargers have placed wide receiver Keenan Allen on the reserve/COVID-19 list
5:08PM ( 2 hours ago )
Ramsey leads No. 14 Northwestern past Auburn in Citrus Bowl
Peyton Ramsey threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score, and No. 14 Northwestern’s defense made it stand up in a 35-19 victory over Auburn in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl
5:04PM ( 2 hours ago )
Packers won't have Pro Bowl OT Bakhtiari for rest of season
Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari will miss the rest of the season after the three-time Pro Bowl selection injured his knee in practice Thursday
3:59PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Sports
The Latest: Cleveland Browns reopen practice facility
The Cleveland Browns have reopened their facility and will practice after a succession of COVID-19 interruptions this week
12:00PM ( 8 hours ago )
NC State seething in underdog role vs Kentucky in Gator Bowl
It’s one of the oddest betting lines of the bowl season
10:48AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: California hits record 585 virus deaths in 1 day
California started the new year by reporting a record 585 coronavirus deaths in a single day
5:37PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: California hospitals struggle to stay afloat
A California health official says hospitals ended the year on “the brink of catastrophe” as the pandemic pushed deaths and sickness to staggering levels and some medical centers scrambled to provide oxygen for the critically ill
4:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
Appeals court vacates order delaying woman's execution
A federal appeals court has cleared the way for the only woman on federal death row to be executed before President-elect Joe Biden takes office
3:42PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP National News
Once a model, California now struggles to tame COVID-19
After months of serving as a role model in the fight against COVID-19, California has seen infections race out of control for weeks
1:02PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: US hits 20 million-mark in coronavirus cases
The U.S. continues to surpass other countries in COVID-19 cases as it reached 20 million at the start of the new year
1:01PM ( 6 hours ago )
Quiet New Year gives breathing room after UK-EU Brexit split
A steady trickle of trucks is rolling off ferries and trains on both sides of the English Channel after a seismic overnight shift in relations between the European Union and Britain
11:54AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online National News
College Sports
AP Sports - College Football
AP Sports - College Playoffs
AP Sports - NFL
Trump vetoes Calif. fishing bill over seafood trade deficit
President Donald Trump has vetoed a bill that would have gradually ended the use of large-mesh drift gillnets used exclusively in federal waters off the coast of California
7:13PM ( 46 minutes ago )
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson entering NFL draft
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is entering the NFL draft
6:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
No. 6 Cincinnati comes up short as unbeaten season ends
Cincinnati came oh so close to toppling a Power 5 opponent on a big stage
6:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
Ohio State without starting G Miller, RB Teague vs. Clemson
Ohio State will be without starting guard Harry Miller, second-leading rusher Master Teague and defensive ends Zach Harrison and Tyler Friday in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson
6:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP torn over Trump's Electoral College challenge of Biden
President Donald Trump’s extraordinary election challenge over his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden is splitting the Republican Party
6:31PM ( 1 hour ago )