2021 Rose Bowl

2021 Rose Bowl Will be Played in Arlington, Texas

It’s been a wild, unpredictable college football season, and the 2021 Rose Bowl is no exception. We’ve ended up with four familiar College Football Playoff semifinalists. The quartet includes five of the six champions and 14 of the 24 appearances in the playoff era.

The first playoff semifinal is between two-time champion Alabama (11-0) and 2019 semifinalist Notre Dame (10-1) in the Rose Bowl. The game was moved from its traditional Pasadena site to Arlington, Texas, due to COVID-19 restrictions. The state of California has imposed a ban on spectators at sporting events.

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The game has been played every year since 1916 and only once somewhere other than the Rose Bowl. That was the 1942 game between Oregon State and Duke that took place in Durham, NC. The official event name is the College Football Semifinal at the 107th Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One.

Betting Lines and Odds

Alabama is favored by 20 points with moneyline odds of -1200 at online sportsbooks. The over/under is set at 65.5 points for two teams averaging almost 85 points a game on offense. Notre Dame carries moneyline odds of +750 for winning the game.

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Alabama Preview: An Offensive Juggernaut

In its 42-36 victory over Florida in the SEC Championship Game, Alabama rolled up 605 yards in total offense. While that seems like a big offensive number, it was only 61 yards above its season average. Quarterback Mac Jones threw for 418 yards, and running back Najee Harris ran for 178.

While the final score was close, Alabama never trailed the Gators and led by as 18 points at halftime. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, a Heisman Trophy finalist, shredded the Alabama defense for 408 yards and three touchdowns. The frantic comeback came up short, ensuring Alabama’s inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

The distractions surrounding the 2020 college football season have overshadowed Alabama’s performance. The Crimson Tide are averaging just under 50 points a game, second best in the country.

They’re giving up just shy of 20 points a game, 17th nationally. They won 11 straight SEC games, something no team has ever done.

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Notre Dame Preview: A Clemson Repeat?

Notre Dame entered the ACC Championship Game with hopes of repeating its mid-season upset of Clemson. The Irish were undefeated and ranked second by the College Football Playoff Committee. After taking an early 3-0 lead over the Tigers, they were dominated the rest of the game, losing 34-10.

For the season, Notre Dame had one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the country. The Irish averaged 238 yards passing and 218 yards on the ground.

Against Clemson, they were held to just 44 yards rushing, primarily because of the Tigers’ relentless pass rush.

Quarterback Ian Book is an efficient passer, but without a running game to complement him, he can struggle. Clemson held the Fighting Irish to 44 yards on 30 carries after giving up 208 in the first meeting.

Game Preview and Pick

Alabama and Clemson have very similar skill sets, with multiple offensive threats and NFL-style defenses. Notre Dame will need to figure out a way to move the ball on the ground against the Tide. Otherwise, it will be a long afternoon for the Irish.

Head coach Nick Saban has one the best college football teams since the mid-1990s Nebraska Cornhuskers. With Jones and Harris, they have an almost unstoppable offense. Defensively, they can stuff the run with regularity.

Look for a game very similar to the Clemson-Notre Dame matchup in the ACC Championship. Still, that 20-point spread for Alabama is a hefty number.

Take the Tide, give the points, and bet the under.

Pick: Alabama 38, Notre Dame 17.