The first of the College Football Playoff semifinal games is set to take place between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Notre Dame.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide — favored by nearly three touchdowns against the Fighting Irish — are historic favorites in their Rose Bowl Game matchup, and a lot of that has to do with their incredible offense. That starts with quarterback Doak Walker Award finalist Najee Harris, Heisman finalist Mac Jones and Sporting News Player of the Year DeVonta Smith. How much success will they see against an Irish defense that ranks 21st nationally in total defense and 14th in scoring defense?
Conversely, Notre Dame will look to quarterback Ian Book, running back Kyren Williams and several talented tight ends — a group that put up 47 points against No. 2 Clemson in a regular season win — to keep Alabama off balance. The Crimson Tide defense has something to prove after giving up 46 points in a narrow SEC championship game win, and will likely throw a barrage of blitzes at Book to keep him from settling in and finding his receivers.
Alabama vs. Notre Dame score
Alabama vs. Notre Dame live updates, highlights
All times ET
Second quarter: Alabama 21, Notre Dame 7
5:32 p.m.: Jones finds, who else, Smith on third down for the conversion. That’s five targets, five catches and 100-plus yards for the receiver. Tide driving at their 46.
5:26 p.m.: Tide get to Book on third-and-8, and he can’t complete the pass to his receiver. Another punt incoming. Alabama will take over at its 23 with fewer than six minutes to play
5:24 p.m.: Alabama again sends pressure on third down, but Book handles it well and throws it to his tight end underneath the coverage. First down Notre Dame at its 41.
5:22 p.m.: Notre Dame takes over again at its 25. Smith, meanwhile, is on the training bike getting looked at by trainers.
5:17 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, ALABAMA. One play later, Jones hits Smith on the slant for a 34-yard touchdown. Smith was slow to get up, but is walking on his own power on the sideline to the Alabama medical tent. It’s 21-7 Alabama with 8:49 left in the half.
5:17 p.m.: Followed promptly by a 15-yard gain to Billingsley, who was draped by a Notre Dame defender. Tide driving at the 34.
5:16 p.m.: Another quick horizontal pass to Smith goes for 24 yards out to the Notre Dame 49. Excellent downfield blocking by Alabama’s skilled players.
5:12 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, NOTRE DAME. Williams takes it in from less than a yard out to get the Irish on the board. It’s 14-7 Alabama with 11:16 left in the half. That drive took 15 plays, traversed 75 yards and ate 8:03 of game clock.
5:11 p.m.: Call stands; Notre Dame’s offense comes back out onto the field.
5:08 p.m.: Another designed run by Book on third-and-goal from the 3. He’s called down short at the goal line, but this is going to review. He was down, but it depends on where Book had the ball before he went down.
5:05 p.m.: Timeout, Notre Dame (12:04)
5:03 p.m.: Two plays later, first down. Notre Dame at the 9 now and in desperate need of a touchdown.
5:02 p.m.: Book finds Williams out of the backfield for a 4-yard gain. Irish have second-and-6 at the 16.
End of first quarter: Alabama 14, Notre Dame 0
4:57 p.m.: Good call by Williams on that play; it looked like it was a busted play, but he made Alabama’s Christian Harris miss in the backfield and gain 9 yards. One play later, Notre Dame nets another first down at the Bama 20.
4:56 p.m.: Notre Dame just gets a first down on third-and-3 at Alabama’s 35. The Irish are likely in four-down territory for the rest of this drive, yardage pending.
4:52 p.m.: Timeout, Notre Dame (2:27)
4:50 p.m.: Notre Dame takes advantage of Alabama’s upfield pass-rush and throws a delayed screen to running back Chris Tyree for a 27-yard gain. The Irish are driving at Alabama’s 45 after the gain.
4:49 p.m.: The Irish are back at it at their 25.
4:45 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, ALABAMA. One play later, Jones finds a wide-open Jahleel Billingsley all alone in the end zone. Smith demanded a double team and left the tight end all by his lonesome. It’s 14-0 Alabama with 4:19 left in the first quarter.
4:45 p.m.: Harris LEAPS over Notre Dame defensive back Nick McCloud and takes it all the way to the Notre Dame 12 for a 53-yard run.
4:43 p.m.: There’s another first down for Alabama, now out to the 35 in three plays (the last by receiver Slade Bolden). Lots of horizontal play-calling early.
4:42 p.m.: Harris gives Alabama some running room, running left 15 yards to the 18.
4:38 p.m.: Jay Bramblett’s punt is near-perfect, rolling 47 yards to be downed at the Bama 3. The Tide will take over there, but officials have to make sure first that the ball didn’t touch any Alabama players.
4:36 p.m.: Notre Dame converts third-and-2 by with a quick 6-yard connection between Book and tight end Michael Mayer, to the 33.
4:34 pm.: Notre Dame takes over at its 25 after the kickoff touchback.
4:30 p.m.: TOUCHDOWN, ALABAMA. One target, one catch, one touchdown for Smith. He takes a quick pass and runs it in 26 yards for the touchdown. It’s 7-0 Alabama with 10:14 in the first quarter.
4:28 p.m.: Notre Dame sends pressure, but can’t reach Jones. He rolls out and hits Forristal for 6 yards and a first down — they’re now at the Notre Dame 37.
4:26 p.m.: Alabama starts with a 15-yard catch-and-run by tight end Miller Forristal. The Crimson Tide driving at the 36.
4:25 p.m.: Alabama forces a punt, and will take over at its 21-yard line after the DeVonta Smith fair catch.
4:23 p.m.: Nice 15-yard run by Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams, who bounces the ball out left and gets the Irish a first down at the 27.
4:21 p.m.: Alabama wastes no time showing off its physicality — Josh Jobe comes flying down the field and causes a fumble deep in Notre Dame territory. The Fighting Irish will start their drive at the 8-yard line.
4:19 p.m.: Notre Dame wins the toss and elects to receive the ball first. Here we go.
College Football Playoff schedule
Friday, Jan. 1
|Bowl||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV channel|
|Rose Bowl (AT&T Stadium)||No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame||4 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
|Sugar Bowl||No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State||8 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
Monday, Jan. 11
|Bowl||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV channel|
|CFP championship game (Hard Rock Stadium)||TBD vs. TBD||8 p.m.||ESPN, fuboTV|
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