When you are a 19.5 point underdog in a college playoff game, the question is, why are you there? Any team other than Notre Dame doesn’t get that opportunity. Take nothing from head coach Brian Kelly and the job he has done to return the fighting Irish to some respectful place in college football.
Truth be known, it is not being ranked #4 and playing in the CFP Semifinals Playoffs Rose Bowl Game by Capital One. They live off their extraordinary successful past and prestige. In reality, they don’t belong in the same sentence as Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State though their gold helmets are beautiful.
They got lucky earlier in the season when they defeated Clemson 47-40 in overtime without Superstar Quarterback Trevor Lawerence due to Covid 19, which caused him to miss two games. However, the world saw the actual picture in the rematch, the ACC Championship Game. The Clemson Tigers mauled them 34-10.
Granted, the Irish program is progressing, but they are not there. The Clemson Tigers own the ACC until they can win the ACC Championship. They don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. Only two programs have earned the benefit of the doubt if they are teetering on the outside looking in, Alabama and Clemson. Give me that pedigree, and I will shut my mouth.
Alabama rolled to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never felt any type of threat the entire game. Except for a garbage time score, the 19.5 points dog the Irish were was indeed accurate. The score was 31-7 late in the game. Let’s call it for what it was the Fighting Irish were over-matched.
The signature play of the game, Najee Harris leaped over a grown man. Yes, I said he jumped over a man Nick Mcloud went in for a tackle half hazard nearly standing straight up Harris cleared him in a single bound and dashed for 53 yards in some superhuman display of talent.
Alabama scored on their first three possessions. By that time, the game was over. The Irish did have some fight putting together an impressive touchdown scoring drive of 15 plays covering 75 yards consuming a whopping 8:03. Thank goodness they had the ball so long, which was their best defense keeping the offensive juggernaut lead by Mack Brown on the sideline.
True to championship football, Bama answered with 6 plays 84-yard drive. Devonta Jones scored with a 34-yard touchdown reception. Imagine how frustrating it must be while celebrating your dominant scoring drive they come off the ropes after taking your best shot and driving it down your throat. Devonta Smith had 5 catches for 105 yards at halftime, and Bama was rolling 21-7.
The difference in talent was displayed again when Smith ran a slant Mack Brown threw it high the Heisman Finalist soared over the true freshman defender Clarence Lewis as if he wasn’t going up for the rebound. It was like a man playing with boys.
The Irish defense turned in a stop to prevent going down by twenty-one points, which allowed them to hold on to hope for a bit longer. The game got away when Ian Book threw an interception. He tried to squeeze a pass through a tight window, and Christian Harris stepped in front to earn the first interception of his career.
In proper championship-caliber, they scored points off the turnover, which demoralizes a team. Mack Brown connected with John Metchie for 40 yards, and you could feel the game was getting away from Notre Dame.
Coaches and football players always talk about chemistry and timing between the quarterback and receiver Mack Brown and Devonta Smith showed us all. Smith ran the perfect route beyond the pylon. Brown threw it to the front of the pylon before he broke off the route. The defenders’ momentum caused him to go in the opposite direction. The All American wide receiver toe tapped both feet inside the boundary for the game-sealing touchdown, making the score 28-7. It was lights out for the Fighting Irish.
Barmore sacked Ian Book and planted that huge body directly on top smashing him to the ground. The air went out of him. The air escaped the stadium when they added a field goal to make the score 31-7. It was all over.
Trigger man of the Crimson Tide Mac Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards and 4 touchdowns. Devonta Smith caught 7 of those passes for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns. Najee Harris had 15 carries for 125 yards. The big tree played big on the big stage.
Notre Dame got another score in garbage time, but this game was over in the first quarter. It was a reminder of their last matchup in the 2012 Championship, where they were defeated 42-14.