The first of New Year’s Day’s two College Football Playoff Semifinals takes place today at the Arlington Stadium in Texas as top seed Alabama (11-0) take on the fourth seed Notre Dame (10-1) in what many experts expect to be one of the more one-sided playoff semifinals in recent times.
Alabama’s College Football Season
The Crimson Tide have had yet another stunning season in the SEC, taking the Western
Conference with a 10-0 record over their conference opponents and then adding the SEC Championship to that with a points-packed 52-46 win over Eastern Conference Champions, Florida.
Since his appointment in 2007 after a short stint in the NFL, Nick Saban has coached Alabama five National Titles and seven SEC Championships. The quality of their team this year is emphasised by the fact that they have had three out of the top five players in the Heisman Trophy reckoning. The last Crimson Tide player to win that award being current Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry back in 2015.
Their high-scoring offense has failed to score at least 50 points on just five occasions and they have scored more than 60 points twice over the course of the season.
Players to watch include Heisman Trophy top five stars QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris and WR DeVonta Smith.
On the negative side, center Landon Dickerson’s season-ending injury will be a big miss on the offensive line for Alabama and it may take Jones and Dickerson’s replacement a little time to gel in the heat of a crucial semi-final.
Notre Dame’s College Football Season
Brian Kelly’s team played this season in the AAC due to restrictions on the Power Five, and it
proved to be an eye-opening move for the team and the AAC overall. Notre Dame went 9-0 in the conference, netting a 2OT win over an under-strength Clemson in the regular season, although the Tigers gained their revenge in the AAC Championship game beating the Fighting Irish 34-10.
Quarterback Ian Book will lead the offense alongside running back Kyren Williams and wide receiver Javon McKinlay. They do have the capability to score points against the Crimson Tide defense, but there are question marks as to whether they can keep pace with the high-octane Alabama offense for the course of the game.
How big an Advantage do ‘Bama Have According to the Sportsbooks?
Close your eyes now if you are a Fighting Irish fan as the bookies really don’t think your team has much of a chance. Notre Dame are the -20 underdogs to win this game against the Crimson Tide and if you bet on them to win the game without any handicap, they are a massive +600 underdog. Those prices are with DraftKings Online Sportsbook.
In contrast, ‘Bama fans will be delighted to see their team backed so strongly by the sportsbooks and although they won’t earn much of a return at -1250 for the win, that should be tempered by what looks likely to be a comfortable passage into the Final.
How will the first College Playoff Semi Final Play Out?
In truth, this should be the easy win for Alabama that many experts and the sportsbook odds setters are predicting. The Crimson Tide’s offense is so multi-faceted, you try to stop one of their key men and they have several others who can step up and rack the points up against you.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame, as shown in their last game with Clemson, don’t have the capability on offense to stay with the Crimson Tide in full flow, nobody has this season, and if Notre Dame could only put 10 points up on Clemson last week, this looks likely to be an even bigger ask here.
We’re backing the Crimson Tide to roll on big with a 55-17 win.