In the most unique Rose Bowl of the century, the Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the right to advance to the College Football National Championship Game on Jan. 11.
Whether or not the game should even connect itself with the Rose Bowl is an open question. The game will not take place in Pasadena, California, instead relocating to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, due to issues related to the ongoing pandemic. California has not provided variances for fans to attend sporting events, prompting Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly to claim Notre Dame might boycott the game. Though almost certainly an idle threat, the semifinal did indeed move to a new location where fans can attend with some restrictions.
The setup for the game might prove more fascinating than the matchup itself. Alabama, buoyed by a trio of Heisman Trophy candidates, enters as the largest favorite in the history of the College Football Playoff. Mac Jones and Devonta Smith rank as the most prolific quarterback-receiver tandem of the season, and running back Najee Harris has feasted when the Crimson Tide look to grind down the clock.
But while Notre Dame enters as sizable underdogs, the program does possess some field-tilting players. Quarterback Ian Book has put together his finest season to date, matching or exceeding his passing efficiency numbers from the previous year while doubling his touchdown output as a runner. Book’s ability to improv played a tremendous role in the Irish’s upset of the then-undefeated Clemson Tigers in November, and he can help level the playing field against an immensely talented opponent.
Still, Notre Dame would need multiple breaks in order to overcome the disparity between itself and Alabama. No team in the College Football Playoff has a more-talented group of starters nor a deeper roster than the Crimson Tide, which helps explain the unprecedented point spread.
Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming
You can watch Alabama and Notre Dame in the 2021 Rose Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. You can stream it via WatchESPN or the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.
Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends
Point spread: Alabama -19.5
Point Total: 66
Money line: Notre Dame (+575), Alabama (-1000)
- Since 2016, Notre Dame has a 4-5-0 record against the spread as the underdog.
- During the same stretch, the Fighting Irish have an over record of 3-6-0 as the underdog.
- Since 2016, Alabama has a record of 39-29-0 against the spread as the favorite.
- Also during that period, the Crimson Tide have an over record of 36-31-1 as the favorite.
Rose Bowl Betting splits
Alabama: (44% of handle, 56% percent of bets)
Notre Dame: (56% of handle, 44% percent of bets)
The Best Bet
The Fighting Irish did not have the best of showings as a double-digit underdog in the ACC championship game against the Clemson Tigers. Now they have to go up against a loaded Alabama squad that has not one but three Heisman caliber players on offense in Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith and Najee Smith. This is one is easy: Take the Crimson Tide.
Pick: Alabama (-19.5)
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