CFP Rose Bowl Prediction: Notre Dame vs. Alabama Odds

Payton Matthews | Updated Dec 30, 2020

Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, Alabama, 2020

This might be Alabama's most dominant team ever. Led by Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith this Crimson Tide offence has averaged just under 50 points per game.

Notre Dame
January 01, 2021, 4:00 PM ET
AT&T Stadium

The first College Football Playoff Game on New Year’s Day is the Rose Bowl – at least that’s what it is called for now – as No. 4 Notre Dame takes on No. 1 Alabama. The Tide are 19.5-point favourites on the college football odds with a total of 65.5.

This matchup was to take place at the actual Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, but COVID-19 restrictions in that state forced the game to be moved to AT&T Stadium outside Dallas. There’s a chance the Pasadena City Council opts to prohibit use of the Rose Bowl name because it’s such a valued brand and exclusive to Pasadena.

The winner of this game will face the winner of the second semifinal on New Year’s Day between No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson in the national title game Jan. 11 from Miami. Alabama would be favoured vs. both and Notre Dame an underdog against both.

Rose Bowl Betting Analysis

That 19.5-point spread is easily the biggest in the history of the College Football Playoff era, which debuted in the 2014 season. Alabama is a -161 favourite to win its third championship of the CFP era and Notre Dame +2200 to win its first title since the 1988 season, which seems hard to believe.

The schools had no common opponents this season because the Irish played just one non-conference game outside the ACC (South Florida), and the Tide played solely an SEC slate.

Alabama is the third-winningest program in NCAA history and Notre Dame No. 5. The schools haven’t played since the BCS National Championship Game following the 2012 season when the No. 2 Tide routed the No. 1 Irish 42-14.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The coronavirus changed a lot in college football this season, perhaps nothing more than Notre Dame leaving independence for the first time in school history and joining the ACC – where the Irish’s basketball programs have resided for years. While the ACC wants to keep that football arrangement permanent, Notre Dame plans to return to independence next season so it can keep rivalry games vs. the likes of Southern Cal, Stanford and Navy.

The ACC treated Notre Dame well as it ran the table in the regular season, including a 47-40 double-overtime upset of then-No. 1 Clemson on Nov. 7, but the Tigers didn’t have star QB Trevor Lawrence then and easily won the rematch in the ACC title game on Dec. 19 with Lawrence, 34-10, to end Notre Dame’s national-best 16-game winning streak. Some believe that lopsided result should have left the Irish out of the playoff. Notre Dame has a terrific defence, if not so much in that game, and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award winner. QB Ian Book is the all-time winningest quarterback in school history with a 30-4 record.

Notre Dame has lost its past six games as a double-digit underdog (it was vs. Clemson) and 1-7 ATS in its last eight January games.

Alabama Crimson Tide

While Alabama missed the College Football Playoff last season, Nick Saban’s team has been in it now every other year. This may be Saban’s most dominant team ever as it’s likely that receiver DeVonta Smith wins the Heisman Trophy and quarterback Mac Jones finishes second – although it’s possible the spots are reversed. They will both be first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Tide won every regular-season game by at least 15 points, including beating ranked then-No. 13 Texas A&M by 18, No. 3 Georgia by 17 and No. 22 Auburn by 29. However, then-No. 7 Florida did push Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, losing only 52-46. That Bama defence can be scored upon, but the offence is easily the best in school history. Bama is No. 2 nationally in scoring (49.7 ppg) and No. 5 in yards (543.9 ypg). Jones leads the country in passer rating (202.3), Smith is first in receiving yards (1,511) and second in receiving TDs (17), and tailback Najee Harris, another expected 2021 first-round pick, is first in rushing TDs (24) and third in rushing yards (1,262). Pick your poison.

Alabama does have a prominent player from Canada in receiver John Metchie III. The Brampton native has 44 catches for 782 yards and six scores and could really explode in 2021 when Smith is gone.

Alabama has won 74 straight games as a double-digit favourite and 6-1 ATS in its past seven as one.

CFP Prediction: Who Will Win Notre Dame vs. Alabama?