Happy Monday, everyone. As you know, Alabama is slated to face Notre Dame on New Year’s Day. Vegas consensus has installed the Tide as three touchdown favorites, while Clemson is favored by 7.5 over Ohio State in the other semifinal.
ESPN wasted no time putting out its initial preview.
Matchup to watch: Alabama’s rush defense vs. Notre Dame’s running game. Since being gashed by Ole Miss for 268 rushing yards and 647 yards of offense in a 63-48 victory on Oct. 10, Alabama’s defense had played pretty well, at least until it faced Florida’s high-flying offense in the SEC championship game. Only one of the Crimson Tide’s last six opponents ran for more than 100 yards, and the Tide allowed just three rushing touchdowns in the seven regular-season games after the Rebels scored four. Notre Dame has one of the most potent rushing attacks in the FBS; redshirt freshman tailback Kyren Williams had six 100-yard games. Notre Dame’s experienced offensive line, led by left tackle Liam Eichenberg, will have to find a way to push the Tide’s menacing front seven.
The front seven has certainly shown up overall, notwithstanding the performance of a certain linebacker. This has shown up in the pass rush as well.
Alabama freshman linebacker Will Anderson didn’t record his first sack until the eighth game of the season. Now he leads the SEC in sacks with seven.— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) December 21, 2020
Christopher Allen is tired for second in the SEC with six.
Anderson is rounding into his own.
In case you wondered why Alabama is headed to Jerryworld and not New Orleans:
When the Rose Bowl was moved from Pasadena to Arlington, the number of fans cleared to attend in AT&T Stadium was set at 16,000 — a hair below the 16,500 allowed for the SEC Championship in Atlanta. Only 3,000 tickets will be issued for the Sugar Bowl semifinal in New Orleans.
“So the committee decided the advantage was for the No. 1 team to have more fans able to watch them play,” said Barta, also the athletics director at Iowa.
That is still going to be one high priced ticket, though the Domers may not be quite as excited to travel for what is likely to be another beatdown of the Irish.
Opposing anonymous coaches don’t seem to think that anyone is beating Alabama this season.
But no team in the playoff field has exactly what Florida has from a matchup perspective; certainly not Notre Dame, which meets Alabama in a CFP semifinal in Arlington on Jan. 1. From there, the Tide would get the Ohio State–Clemson winner in the championship game in Miami.
Soon, we’ll know if any team can re-construct Florida’s blueprint. But Nos. 84 and 1 aren’t walking through their door.
“If they stay healthy, the only chance people have to beat them is catching them on the perfect storm day where things just don’t go well,” one FBS head coach said. “Only thing in Alabama’s way is Alabama.”
The wild card here is the injury to Landon Dickerson. We need that brick wall in front of Mac that he has enjoyed all season.
Jimbo Fisher wasn’t pleased that the Aggies were left out.
“Seven straight SEC wins,” Fisher said. “Some schools ain’t even playing seven games.”
On Sunday, Fisher said he still feels that way but is ready to move on to the team’s Orange Bowl preparation.
“I still believe [we’re a top-four team],” Fisher said Sunday. “But that’s my opinion on it and I’m very biased, and other people have other opinions, and that’s what makes the world go ‘round.”
Look at the bright side, Jimbo. You have a chance to beat North Carolina.
Last, if bulletin board material is a thing, Dabo has provided some.
Ranking your likely playoff opponent outside the top ten is a take. I get his logic, but that’s still pretty bold.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.