Why the Tide will roll over the Irish in the 2020 CFP


Curtis Compton-Atlanta Journal Constitution/TNS

Alabama’s Mac Jones after defeating no. 7 Florida in the 2020 SEC Championship.

Zachary Kilby, Sports Editor

WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The 2020 Rose Bowl will be a rematch of the 2013 BCS National Championship game between the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) and no. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1) in Arlington, Texas on Jan. 1. The Irish will look to prevent another 42-14 blowout loss against Nick Saban and his crew, but Bama’s two Heisman finalists and 1,200 yard running back will present a difficult challenge for Head Coach Brian Kelly.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones is a 6-foot-3-inch redshirt junior looking to become the first quarterback in Alabama history to win the Heisman. Coming off a historic performance in the SEC Championship game, Jones threw for a school record 418 yards and helped the Tide defeat No. 7 Florida, 52-46.

Number 10 has a rocket for an arm and commands a fast pace Alabama offense that suites his style of play. Jones’ 3,739 passing yards on the season is the most for an Alabama quarterback since Tua Tagovailoa in 2018 who transformed Bama’s ground and pound offensive system into a flashy west coast design that put up over 50 points eight times throughout the 2018-19 season.

The Alabama quarterback will be licking his chops heading into Friday’s matchup against a weak Notre Dame secondary. The Irish’s defensive backs only have 11 interceptions on the season as of Dec. 26, which ranks 63rd in the nation. Jones will miss the speedy and elusive Jalen Waddle in the passing game, but with weapons such as DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III on the outside, look for Jones to continue his air assault in the semifinals.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

After hauling in the game winning reception to end the 2018 National Championship to defeat Georgia 26-23 in overtime, Alabama fans were excited to see Smith play in Tuscaloosa for another three years.

The 2020 Heisman finalist did not disappoint.

With an Alabama record 17 receiving touchdowns in 2020, Smith was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-1-inch senior is a vertical threat with hands like glue who can play in the slot or on the outside. With comparisons to NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, Smith will be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft due to his elite route running skills and ability to catch the ball in any situation.

Smith is the only wide receiver amongst the three quarterback finalists for the 2020 Heisman Trophy and would be the first receiver since Desmond Howard in 1991 to win the award.

Chalk number six up for at least one touchdown against Notre Dame on Friday night, but don’t be surprised if you see the big-time playmaker reach the endzone multiple times.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Continuing the historic long list of dominant Alabama running backs, Harris rushed for over 1,200 yards for the second consecutive year. The senior is coming off a career game against Florida in the SEC Championship when he found the endzone five times and had over 200 yards of total offense.

Just looking at Harris from afar, it is easy to tell that the 230-pound force thrives between the guards, but he also has 4.45 speed that allows him to bust a run outside and take it to the house in the blink of an eye.

Harris rushed for a FBS best 24 touchdowns in 2020, which was five more than Iowa State’s Breece Hall who finished second in the category. The senior Harris will continue finding the endzone against Notre Dame who ranked outside of the top 80 in red zone defense during the 2020 campaign. Harris will carry the load throughout the course of the contest but will dominate late to put the game away for the Tide.

Prediction: BAMA 42, ND 17

Saban and Alabama simply have too many weapons on offense to exploit an average Irish defense. Notre Dame’s best chance in this game will be controlling the time of possession to prevent the Tide’s playmakers from staying on the field.

The big three of Jones, Smith, and Harris will just be too much for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is coming off an embarrassing 34-10 loss to No. 2 Clemson and things will not get better against the best team in the country.