Rose Bowl scouting report: Alabama vs. Notre Dame

No. 1 seed ALABAMA (11-0) vs. No. 4 NOTRE DAME (10-1)

When: Friday, 1 p.m. PST (ESPN)

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Line: Alabama by 19½

Series record: Notre Dame leads, 5-2

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Alabama is trying to get in the College Football Playoff championship game for the fifth time in six seasons. Notre Dame is making its second CFP appearance, two years after a 30-3 loss to Clemson at AT&T Stadium. The Crimson Tide and Irish last played eight seasons ago, when Alabama won, 42-14, in the BCS national title game on Jan. 7, 2013, in suburban Miami, where this year’s CFP title game is scheduled for Jan. 11.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book vs. the Alabama defense: The fifth-year senior, a two-time captain, is the school’s winningest starting quarterback (30-4) and had 266 consecutive attempts between his two interceptions this season. He completed 64% percent of his passes for 2,601 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 430 yards and eight scores. The Crimson Tide did allow 46 points to Florida while Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards in the SEC title game, but their previous six opponents combined for only 53 points. Alabama has 32 sacks and has returned three of its 11 interceptions for touchdowns.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alabama: Junior quarterback Mac Jones and senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith, both Heisman Trophy finalists. Jones has thrown for 3,739 yards and 32 touchdowns with four interceptions while completing 76.5% (250 of 327) of his passes. Smith is the SEC career leader with 40 touchdown catches, with a school-record 17 this season when he has 98 receptions for 1,511 yards.

Notre Dame: Senior linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The AP All-American also won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker with 56 tackles (38 solos), 11 for losses. He had one interception and recovered two fumbles, one of which he returned for a touchdown in a double-overtime victory over Clemson.

FACTS & FIGURES

Relocated from its traditional home in Pasadena because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Rose Bowl will be the second New Year’s Six game played at AT&T Stadium in less than 48 hours. The Cotton Bowl was Wednesday night, and the turnover of the stadium started almost immediately after Oklahoma’s 55-20 victory over Florida. … Notre Dame is 4-3 when facing a top-ranked team in a bowl game. … Alabama is 4-0 at AT&T Stadium, including a 38-0 rout of Michigan State in a semifinal game at the Cotton Bowl five seasons ago.

ANALYSIS

Let’s be clear: The difference is in the dudes. The Tide simply have more elite players and dynamic athletes than the Irish. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes the talent gap has shrunk since the Irish lost to Alabama in the 2013 BCS championship game, and he is right. But is it enough to dramatically change the outcome eight years later?

A way to bridge the chasm could start with Notre Dame’s tight ends. Freshman Michael Mayer is likely a future first-round draft pick and Tommy Tremble is a versatile athlete who lines up at several positions. The Irish will also use three tight ends at times.

It’s not so much that the tight ends can dominate the game with their pass-catching and playmaking. SEC Network’s Cole Cubelic says Notre Dame can use them in varying formations and motions to make it difficult for Alabama to identify who is doing what.

“The way you’re going to have success against (the Tide) is basically to not sit still and to get them to line up incorrectly,” said Cubelic, who played offensive line at Auburn.

The Irish offensive line is excellent and should hold up just fine against Alabama’s defensive front, which could give Notre Dame the opportunity to run the ball, milk some clock, let Book make plays with his legs and limit total possessions. That’s important, because on the other side of the ball, nobody is slamming the brakes on Jones, Smith, running back Najee Harris and a Tide offense that averages almost 8 yards per play.

The Irish need to find a few stops to have a chance. Cubelic and ESPN analyst Greg McElroy disagree on the best way to go about getting them.

Cubelic said Notre Dame should take Arkansas’ approach, drop seven or eight into coverage, focus on taking away the deep throws and force the Tide to be patient. Of course, the Razorbacks lost, 52-3, but Jones averaged only 8.7 yards per pass. On the season, he was up over 11.

McElroy said Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea should throw every pressure he has at Alabama.

“I think the best way for them to neutralize the throw game is to overload pressure and force the ball out of Mac Jones’ hand earlier than he would like it to be forced out,” said McElroy, a former Alabama quarterback.

The Tide might be more susceptible to protection problems in their first full game without center Landon Dickerson, who was lost in the Florida game to a knee injury.

“That’s a massive, massive loss,” Cubelic said.

Read more about Rose Bowl scouting report: Alabama vs. Notre Dame This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Santa Ana Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Alabama, Notre Dame ready for relocated Rose Bowl clash

ARLINGTON, Texas — Playing a Rose Bowl game deep in the heart of Texas is anything but normal. Top-ranked Alabama being in a College Football Playoff semifinal game is nothing new.

The SEC champion Crimson Tide (11-0) are in a familiar position despite the chaos of playing during the pandemic. No. 4 Notre Dame, which finished runner-up in the ACC after temporarily giving up its cherished independent status, gets another playoff chance two years after a big thud in the same stadium.

“We’re going to keep knocking at the door. We don’t listen to the narratives about what Notre Dame can and can’t do,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said on Thursday. “We’re just excited that we’re going to keep banging at this door and we’re going to get through.”

These Irish (10-1) go into the relocated Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day as three-touchdown underdogs against Alabama and the Tide’s Heisman Trophy finalists, quarterback Mac Jones and receiver DeVonta Smith. The game was moved to AT&T Stadium from its traditional home in Pasadena because of COVID-19 restrictions in California that would have kept family – and any other fans – from attending.

When the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium was a semifinal two years ago, Notre Dame lost, 30-3, to eventual national champion Clemson in its only previous CFP appearance. The No. 2 Tigers (10-1), who avenged their only loss by beating the Irish, 34-10, in the ACC title game, play Ohio State (6-0) in this season’s other semifinal Friday night at the Sugar Bowl.

The semifinal winners are scheduled to play Jan. 11 in suburban Miami, where eight seasons ago in the BCS national championship game Alabama trounced Notre Dame, 42-14, in the last meeting between the storied programs.

“Even after going undefeated that year, we lost in the national championship game, and we were looked at as not a very good football team,” Kelly said. “We needed to look at the things that could help us grow. And we’ve been doing that each and every year.”

Notre Dame is still trying to catch up with Alabama, which is in a CFP semifinal for the sixth time after missing the final four for the only time last year. The Tide are 4-0 at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, including a 38-0 rout of Michigan State five seasons ago on the way to a national championship. They won another title, their fifth overall under Coach Nick Saban, three seasons ago.

“It means a lot to come back here, reach our destination, to keep on building the standard here,” All-American cornerback Patrick Surtain II said.

“We just want to take advantage of where we’re at,” said Jones, the junior who has thrown for 3,739 yards and 32 touchdowns with four interceptions in his first full season as the starter. “We’re finally where we want to be.”

MISSING IN THE MIDDLE

Alabama will be without All-America center Landon Dickerson, a team captain who is recovering from surgery after injuring his knee late in the SEC title game victory over Florida.

“He’s been a great leader on our team and will certainly be missed,” Saban said.

Chris Owens, a senior from Arlington, Texas, will be the starting center against the Irish.

SKILL SETS

Alabama’s offense has Heisman finalists Jones and Smith, plus a big-scoring, dual-threat tailback in Najee Harris, who has rushed for 1,262 yards and 24 touchdowns, and caught 32 passes for 316 yards and three more scores. Harris finished fifth in the Heisman voting, but did not receive enough votes to be deemed a finalist.

Smith has 98 catches for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jones has completed 76.5% of his passes for 3,739 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Ian Book, a fifth-year senior and two-time captain, is Notre Dame’s winningest starting quarterback at 30-4. He has thrown for 2,601 yards and 15 touchdowns, with 430 yards and eight scores rushing. Sophomore running back Kyren Williams has 1,061 yards rushing with 12 TDs, and Javon McKinley, who starred at Corona’s Centennial High, has four 100-yard receiving games.

BIG-GAME PLAYER

McKinley, who has been plagued by injuries in college, was a dominant high school player, hauling in 153 passes for 3,232 yards and 35 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Centennial. As a junior, he hauled in 97 passes for 2,059 yards and 22 touchdowns.

With Centennial, McKinley was often at his best in the biggest moments. In five playoff games during his junior season, McKinley had 50 catches for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns, including games against national powers Concord De La Salle (six catches, 153 yards, two TDs), St. John Bosco (13 catches, 151 yards, one TD) and Mater Dei (six catches, 187 yards, one TD).

That same season, McKinley also had six catches for 104 yards and a score in a regular-season game against Mater Dei and caught seven passes for 103 yards and a score against powerhouse Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas.

QUICK TURNAROUND

The Rose Bowl will be the second New Year’s Six game played at AT&T Stadium in less than 48 hours. Oklahoma beat Florida 55-20 in the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday night, and the turnover of the stadium began almost immediately afterward. That game had a limited capacity crowd of 17,323, and the Rose Bowl attendance should be similar.

SHORT TRIP

Like they would during the regular season, the Crimson Tide traveled from campus on Thursday, the day before the game.

“Just going today as if this is a normal road trip for us, but certainly not a normal game for us,” Saban said.

FRIENDLY FOES

Alabama running back Harris and Notre Dame quarterback Book, who grew up 90 miles from each other in Northern California, once were 7-on-7 teammates for TMP of Sacramento.

“The plan was if we were ever down, you just throw it up and Najee would go catch it. He was playing receiver for us. And he did that. That’s how we were able to win some games,” Book said.

“He does an amazing job getting the ball to his playmakers,” Harris said.

Powered by WPeMatico

College Football Playoff defenses face big challenges

My how times have changed in college football since the last time Alabama and Notre Dame met.

The Crimson Tide rode the nation’s best defense into that January 2013 national championship matchup, yielding a paltry 184 yards and eight points per game.

Fast-forward to the new reality: Offense wins championships. Or at least it’s carried the top-ranked Tide, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State into contention heading into Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinal games.

Alabama might have the nation’s best offense under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the former USC head coach.

“This is not pro I, let’s run it up inside and play great defense,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, whose Fighting Irish (10-1) will face the Crimson Tide (11-0) in Arlington, Texas. “They’re still playing fundamentally sound defense, but with the offenses as they are today, you know, it’s very difficult not to give up some yards.

“So you’re seeing fundamentally sound defense. You’re still seeing the same principles. You’re seeing at times elite play in certain position groups at Alabama. And then an offense now that can rival the very best college offenses in the country.”

Only the Tigers, who play the Buckeyes in New Orleans, have an elite defense statistically among the playoff teams. The other three have been plenty good enough to support those high-scoring offenses.

But ’Bama doesn’t rank higher than 12th nationally in the four major defensive statistical categories. Notre Dame isn’t better than 14th and Ohio State has been stingy against the run and more generous to opposing passers.

Then there’s Clemson, which ranks sixth in total defense, giving up 298.5 yards per game.

The AP All-America teams had eight representatives from the playoffs on the first-team offense and three on defense: Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade.

The playoff teams have three of the four Heisman Trophy finalists.

ALABAMA

The Skinny: The Tide have veteran standouts like Surtain and linebackers Dylan Moses and Christian Harris and rising star freshmen like pass rusher Will Anderson and defensive back Malachi Moore. Have been stingy at times but gave up yards and points galore to Mississippi and Florida. The Tide have 21 sacks over the last four games and 32 total.

Best Game: Alabama became the first to shut out a Mike Leach team, beating Mississippi State, 41-0, and allowing just 163 total yards while forcing three turnovers.

Worst Game: Alabama allowed a whopping 647 total yards in a 63-48 victory over Lane Kiffin’s Mississippi team. It was the most yards a Tide defense had ever surrendered and the most points by an unranked team against ’Bama. “It humbled us a lot,” Surtain said.

Best Player: Surtain is a shutdown cornerback who was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and is a Jim Thorpe Award finalist. He has 32 tackles, an interception and 10 pass breakups.

CLEMSON

The Skinny: The Tigers are not as star heavy and don’t have an Isaiah Simmons-type to lead the way this season. That balanced approach has Clemson giving up fewer points this year than last season’s group. The soft spot might be in pass coverage, where Clemson is giving up 198 yards per game, about 30 more than last year.

Best player: Linebacker James Skalski is a fierce hitter and the glue that holds the group together. When he missed games against Boston College and Notre Dame with an injury, Clemson allowed 75 points and lost to the Irish. With Skalski back the past three games, the Tigers have given up just 37 total, including only 10 to Notre Dame in the ACC Championship rematch.

Worst game: At Notre Dame, where the Tigers gave up 518 yards – unheard of against a Brent Venables-led defense – and permitted the Irish a long touchdown drive at the end to tie a game they’d eventually win in double overtime.

Best game: The rematch with the Fighting Irish for the ACC crown. Clemson held Notre Dame to a field goal on two early trips to the red zone, then pounded the Irish the rest of the way. The Tigers gave up just 263 yards to win their sixth consecutive league crown.

NOTRE DAME

The Skinny: Under third-year defensive coordinator Clark Lea, set to become head coach at alma mater Vanderbilt, the Irish entered their final regular-season game against Syracuse with a top 10 defense. But they’ve given up 955 yards combined the past two games and have a tendency to allow big passing plays.

Best player: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. A first-team Associated Press All-American and Butkus Award winner, the 6-foot-1, 216-pound senior has 56 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, an interception, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Clemson.

Worst game: The 34-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game. The Irish struggled to defend quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne.

Best game: The 31-17 victory at North Carolina on Nov. 27. Notre Dame held the prolific Tar Heels, whose offense was averaging 563.4 yards per game coming in, to just 78 total yards and zero points in the second half.

OHIO STATE

The Skinny: COVID-19 issues and a six-game schedule might have impeded the Buckeyes’ progress. But the defense did recover 10 fumbles, collect six interceptions and rack up 17 sacks in that limited schedule.


Best Game: Ohio State turned in a strong defensive performance in a 22-10 victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes allowed just 329 yards and intercepted two passes.

Worst Game: Ohio State nearly blew a three-touchdown lead before holding on for a 42-35 win against Indiana, albeit with help from a defensive touchdown late in the third quarter. Michael Penix Jr. torched the Buckeyes for 491 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Best player: All-America cornerback Shaun Wade had 21 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups. His 36-yard interception return for a touchdown against Indiana proved huge.

Powered by WPeMatico

Rose Bowl: Washington’s Myles Gaskin reflects on college career

Senior running back Myles Gaskin rushed for 1,147 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games this year.

Prior to his final game for the Huskies, Gaskin reflects on his past bowl experience and trying to stay focused in the days leading up to the Rose Bowl.

Gaskin also talks about the top video games played among the Washington players. Quarterback Jake Browning also chips in on the discussion.

Read more about Rose Bowl: Washington’s Myles Gaskin reflects on college career This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Rose Bowl Game Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Washington Huskies

The 105th Rose Bowl game will not only serve as the first postseason match up between the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) and the Washington Huskies (10-3), but it will be the 15th appearance for both programs in the Rose Bowl.

The Buckeyes enter the game 7-7 all time while the Huskies’ hold a 7-6-1 in Rose Bowl games.

After the Buckeyes won the Big Ten Championship, following a win over Northwestern, coach Urban Meyer announced that he planned to retire from coaching.

Not only will the Rose Bowl serve as his final game as a coach, it will be his first time coaching in the game known as the “Granddaddy of Them All.”


How to watch the 2019 Rose Bowl Game:

The matchup: No. 6 Ohio State (12-1) vs. No. 9 Washington (10-3)

Date: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019

Time: 2 p.m. PT

TV: ESPN

Ticket information: click here


Ohio State in the Rose Bowl:

Last appearance: win over Purdue 34-24 in 2001

Biggest win: vs. USC 42-21 in 1974

Biggest loss: vs. California 28-0 in 1921


Washington in the Rose Bowl:

Last appearance: vs.

Biggest win: vs. Wisconsin 44-8 (1960)

Biggest loss: vs. USC 29-0 in 1944


Previous game results:

The Buckeyes will try and keep the trend going in its series against the Huskies, having won the last three meetings. In the 11 times these two programs have met on the field, Washington has only won three times.

Oct. 5, 1957: Ohio State 35, Washington 7

Oct. 4, 1958: Ohio State 12, Washington 7

Oct. 2 1965: Ohio State 23, Washington 21

Oct. 1, 1966: Washington 38, Ohio State 22

Oct. 4, 1969: Ohio State 41, Washington 14

Sept. 13, 1986: Washington 40, Ohio State 7

Sept. 11, 1993: Ohio State 21, Washington 12

Sept. 10, 1994: Washington 25, Ohio State 16

Sept. 16, 1995: Ohio State 30, Washington 20

Aug. 30, 2003: Ohio State 28, Washington 9

Sept. 15, 2007: Ohio State 33, Washington 14


Pregame festivities:

The Rose Bowl Bash will be free to the public and provide family-friendly interactive games, a merchandise booth, photo activations, a beer garden, and entertainment–including a DJ booth and participation from team bands and cheer squads.


2019 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Class:

  • Illinois graduate and Chicago Bears founder George Halas
  • Former Arizona State and NFL offensive lineman Randall McDaniel
  • Former Stanford head coach Pop Warner
  • Former Texas and NFL quarterback Vince Young

How did they reach the Rose Bowl game?

Washington:

Ohio State:


  • Washington linebacker Brandon Wellington holds a rose in his mouth as he celebrates with teammates after Washington defeated Utah 10-3 in the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) looks to throw during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Northwestern, in Indianapolis. Haskins was named offensive player of the year when The Associated Press All-Big Ten Conference team was released Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Washington coach Chris Petersen, center left, and defensive back Byron Murphy, center right, celebrate after Washington defeated Utah 10-3 in the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer holds the trophy after Ohio State defeated Northwestern in the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, early Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Indianapolis. Ohio State won 45-24. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

  • Washington coach Chris Petersen, left, celebrates with defensive back Byron Murphy after Utah defeated Washington 10-3 in the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was suspended for three games to start the 2018 season. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

  • Washington head coach Chris Petersen gestures from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) celebrates a touchdown with his teammates during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Northwestern, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

  • Washington coach Chris Petersen, center, raises the trophy as he celebrates with his players after a 10-3 win over Utah in the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin celebrates early Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, after defeating Northwestern 45-24 in the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Washington defensive back Byron Murphy celebrates after Washington defeated Utah 10-3 in the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins (2) is tackled by Northwestern linebacker Blake Gallagher during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Washington defensive back Byron Murphy returns an interception 66 yards for the only touchdown of the game against Utah during the second half of the Pac-12 Conference championship game on Friday night in Santa Clara. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (1) is chased by Northwestern defensive back Alonzo Mayo (10) and defensive back Travis Jack Whillock (7) during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Washington defensive back Myles Bryant (5) sacks Utah quarterback Jason Shelley (15) during the first half of the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) and Tuf Borland (32) celebrate after defeating Northwestern 45-24 in the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Indianapolis. Ohio (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

of

Expand


Follow along as our reporters provide live updates from the press conference in Anaheim.

Using a mobile device? Click here to see our updates.

Read more about Rose Bowl Game Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Washington Huskies This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico