Friday afternoon the Alabama Crimson Tide are set to square off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the illustrious Rose Bowl trophy and a spot in the College Football National Championship game. These two storied programs are both coming into this game trying to shake off poor defensive performances in their previous league championship games. Alabama was able to capture the SEC championship with their win over Florida, however, Notre Dame fell to Clemson in the ACC championship game. This will be a war of attrition, and without Landon Dickerson, can Bama continue their dominance? We will take a look at some of the keys to this game and I will give my analysis and prediction.
From the outside perspective, many people believe Alabama will win this game without much resistance, but Notre Dame has some pierces that can give Bama problems. The popular question is “can ND keep up with Bama’s offense”, to keep this short and sweet, no. Alabama comes into the Rose Bowl averaging 49.7 points per game and can stress a defense in several different ways. Enter Heisman hopefuls Mac Jones and his number one target, Devonta Smith. Both players feed of each other and they understand the nuances before and during particular plays. If those 2 were not a handful on their own, Alabama also has the best running back in CFB, Najee Harris, who is coming off a career performance against the Gators in Atlanta. A steady diet of the run game is the is usually the key to open the play action game that Mac Jones excels in, but if Clark Lea, Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator, attempts to shut down the run early; we have seen Bama then utilize the pass to set up the run.
Another point I have not seen many people talk about is that this game will be played on the same type of turf that Mercedes-Benz Stadium has. This will again help the Alabama skill position players use their speed and route running ability to create separation. Notre Dame has a good defense, after studying their film I was impressed with their defensive linemen’s ability to contain the correct gaps and set the edge for their linebackers to make a play. The problem ND’s defense is the same for Bama’s, both linebacking units struggle against the pass. Look for Bama and ND to try and exploit this weakness on several occasions. I think Notre Dame can keep this game close and make it into the fourth quarter, but Bama’s combination of their lethal offense and an opportunistic defense will be too much to handle for the Irish. My official prediction is 48-31 Alabama win. Roll Tide
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Cory Dees is an Alabama football and recruiting analyst for Team Tide Talk. Follow him on Twitter @CDees247. Always feel free to reach out with questions and comments. Roll Tide.
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