Notre Dame tries to stay with Alabama in College Football Playoff semifinal

LEFT: DeVonta Smith #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide pulls in this touchdown reception against Marco Wilson #3 of the Florida Gators during the second half of the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 19, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Phot

If Notre Dame is looking for some kind of motivation this week, they haven’t had to search high and low.

The Fighting Irish have been ridiculed for poor performances in the biggest games of the Brian Kelly era, which now includes a 34-10 drubbing to Clemson in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 19. They are the team literally nobody wanted to see included in a playoff field that feels bloated at four teams in 2020 – the odd team out in a two team party of Alabama and Clemson. (Ohio State would likely fill that role too after six games, but nobody questions the Buckeyes pedigree for big games.)

On New Year’s Day and under the dome at AT&T Stadium, Notre Dame will get its chance to prove it belongs when they face the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff semifinals (4 p.m., ESPN).

FOX Bet Sportsbook is your sports betting home to get the latest odds, prop bets and bet boosts. Check it out now for special promotions when you open an account. FOX Bet is available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado through the FOX Bet app and online at

The sports betting information

On Sportsbook, Alabama is a 20 ½ point favorite and minus-1000 on the money line. (A $1,000 bet is needed to win $100.) The Irish are +650 (a $100 bet will win $650.) The over-under number is 65 ½ points.

Against the spread this year, Alabama was money in going 8-3. Notre Dame had a different road, going 5-6.

The history

Two of the most historic programs in college football will meet for the eighth time, with Notre Dame holding a 5-2 advantage to this point. The last meeting was in the 2013 BCS National Championship game in Miami, where the Crimson Tide rolled to a 42-14 win. That game started the "Kelly’s teams can’t win the big ones" talk because of how ill prepared they appeared for Alabama’s talent and speed. This is the fourth bowl game between the two schools- Notre Dame won the first two, including the 1973 National title in the Sugar Bowl, 24-23.

The storylines to watch

One of the biggest problems that Notre Dame is going to face is how to get an embattled secondary to match up against Alabama’s wide receivers, which features Heisman contender DeVonta Smith. Smith (98 catches, 1,511 yards, 17 TD), John Metchie III (44-782- 6 TD) and Jaylen Waddle (25-557-4 TD) are nightmares. And if you play too much in the backfield to take them away from Mac Jones, Najee Harris could run all over you. Harris has 1,262 yards, is averaging 5.9 per carry and has scored 24 touchdowns. There aren’t many flaws in Alabama’s attack  and that’s what makes the task so difficult for Notre Dame.

The Irish do have some weapons. Ian Book is 30-4 as a starter and has thrown for 2,601 yards and 15 touchdowns while only yielding two interceptions this season. Kyren Williams has been solid at running back with 1,061 yards and 12 touchdowns. The depth of the receivers, however, isn’t there. And even if you figure in tight end Michael Mayer into the passing mix, the question becomes can the Irish win a game that seems ticketed to the 30s and 40s. The only hope may be a grind-it-out affair that plays keep away from Alabama. That’s easier said than done.

FOX Bet operates a mobile and online sportsbook and a free-to-play game.
For FOX Bet Sportsbook: Must be 21+. NJ, PA and CO only. Complete terms and conditions can be found in the app and at FOX Bet Services are operated by TSG Interactive US Service LTD. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler (NJ, PA) or 1-800-522-4700 (CO).