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No. 1 Alabama meets No. 4 Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Jan. 1.  

The game was relocated from the Rose Bowl to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. on ESPN.  

Alabama (11-0) is making its sixth CFP appearance and is looking for a sixth national championship under coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide ranked second in the FBS with 49.7 points per game with an offense that features quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris and receiver DeVonta Smith.  

Notre Dame (10-1) is back in the playoff for the second time in three seasons under coach Brian Kelly after an impressive one-year tour of the ACC, but the Fighting Irish enter the matchup with the same-old big-game questions after a 34-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game. Quarterback Ian Book is 30-4 as a starter.  

Here’s everything to know about betting on Alabama vs. Notre Dame, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the CFP semifinal.  

Alabama vs. Notre Dame betting odds

  • Spread: Alabama –19.5 
  • Over/under: 65.5 
  • Moneyline: Alabama –110, Notre Dame –110  

The Crimson Tide opened as 17.5-point favorites, and that line has jumped up two points. It’s the largest semifinal spread in the history of the College Football Playoff.  

Alabama vs. Notre Dame all-time series 

The Irish lead the all-time series 5-2, and that includes victories in the 1973 Sugar Bowl and the 1975 Orange Bowl. The Crimson Tide won the last meeting 42-14 in the BCS championship game on Jan. 7, 2013.  

Three trends to know 

— The Crimson Tide is 4-1 S/U in CFP semifinals, and Alabama is 3-2 ATS in those games. The Crimson Tide is 1-1 ATS as a double-digit favorite in those games.  

— The Irish are 5-6 ATS this season. Notre Dame is 12-10-1 ATS in neutral-site games under Brian Kelly since 2010.  

— The Crimson Tide is 8-3 ATS this season, and that includes a 2-1 ATS mark when the spread is fewer than 20 points.  

Three things to watch 

— Notre Dame’s offensive line. In that BCS championship loss in 2013, the Irish were manhandled up front. Notre Dame’s offensive line features All-American candidates in Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks, Robert Hainsey and Tommy Kraemer. It’s an experienced group that has to give Ian Book time to work against a talented Alabama defense that improved in the second half of the season. That said, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Florida combined to average 374 passing yards against Alabama. Book can have success with targets in Michael Mayer, Avery Davis and Ben Skowronek, but he needs to be more decisive in the pocket. That could open up the running game for Kyren Williams, who averages 122.1 rushing yards per game.  

— Alabama’s running game. The Irish allowed just 3.7 yards per carry, and the defense, led by Butkus Award winner Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, is solid. The Crimson Tide will test that with a rushing attack that averages 5.0 yards per carry. Najee Harris rushed for 24 TDs and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. If Harris is breaking loose early, then Notre Dame will be in trouble.  

The first quarter. With a spread that high, sometimes it really is that simple. Alabama outscored opponents 132-37 in the first quarter this season, and it has outscored opponents 52-13 in those five previous semifinals. A quick lead would allow offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to do what he wants. What will Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea to do disrupt that with his back seven?  

Stat that matters 

202.3 

Mac Jones leads the FBS with that passer rating, which is higher than the 202.0 passer rating LSU’s Joe Burrow put up last season. DeVonta Smith and John Metchie are huge problems for a Notre Dame secondary that had two interceptions this season, and Jones has played his best in big games. Smith poses the biggest challenge for the Irish’s defense.  

Prediction  

The lines on both sides will tell you right away whether the Irish stand a chance in yet another big-game opportunity. Alabama’s offense is clicking at an all-time level, and Jones should be able to settle in with the perimeter targets early. The Crimson Tide hit two long TDs in the second quarter to build a two-score lead by halftime. Notre Dame threatens to make it a game in the third quarter when Book responds, but Alabama turns to Harris in closing time. That puts Saban within reach of a seventh national championship — which would break legendary coach Bear Bryant’s record.  

Final score: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 23

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December 23, 2020
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