Staff Predictions: Rose Bowl 2021
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, January 1, 2021
Hayden Adams — Sports Editor
It’s incredible to see the shift in attitude from the Notre Dame fan base ahead of this game. I can’t speak for everyone, but I was riding high on this team going into the ACC Championship. Sure, a loss was entirely possible in my mind, but not that kind of embarrassment. It’s only by the grace of God (and probably a Chris Tyree garbage-time touchdown) that the Irish are even in the Playoff, and now they’ve got a date with Alabama. Buckle your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Notre Dame’s offense won’t have the same difficulties against the Tide that they did against Clemson, which is amazing to say out loud. Even so, their offense has not shown the ability, nor the inclination, to put up a serious challenge against any premier opponent. Say what you will about the 47 points they scored (33 in regulation) in the Nov. 7 version of the Clemson game, but even then the Irish went 59 minutes of game time between offensive touchdowns. Bama’s offense is on another level, with three of the top-five Heisman finalist vote-getters starting at the skill positions. Call me crazy, but I foresee this getting ugly. The only question is whether the three-touchdown explosion that creates separation comes in the first or second quarter for the Tide.
FINAL SCORE: Alabama 41, Notre Dame 17
Jimmy Ward — Associate Sports Editor
One of the few things that never gets old after a Notre Dame victory in South Bend are the chants that ring throughout the tunnels as students exit the stadium. One of those chants has always thrown me off. “We want Bama!” is, without fail, always the chant that brings me back down to reality after riding the high of a Notre Dame win. It always throws me into a dangerous thought spiral. Do we really want Bama? Really?
Well, now it doesn’t matter if Notre Dame wants them; they’re getting them whether they like it or not. I for one don’t really like it. I can’t say I’m really looking forward to this game that will, in all likelihood, see the Irish get pummeled in front of a national audience. All the stats and data and analytics say that, on paper, Notre Dame has a fat chance of winning this game. But something in my gut is telling me differently.
Call me crazy or call me stupid, but I don’t think it’d necessarily take a miracle for the Irish to catch Alabama by surprise. I refuse to cast any doubt on the team here as I was so quick to a couple weeks back in the ACC Championship, and I don’t think I’m acting too rash either. I trust this team can get it done. Sprinkle in a little luck of the Irish and stout performances from Notre Dame’s playmakers who have stepped up to the plate all year, and you have an instant classic on your hands. I have faith this team can close it out in crunch time.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, Alabama 41
Charlotte Edmonds — Senior Sports Writer
My senior-year optimism was short lived. A 24-point beating will do that to you. Follow that up with a quick look through the Alabama roster and the realist in me is not easily compelled to change my attitude. This offensive trio of Mac Jones, Najee Harris and Devonta Smith is enough to cause any defense headaches, but they’re anchored by a massive offensive line that boasts two All-Americans. Defensively, they’re a classic SEC defense stacked with tons of athleticism and speed. But they’re not invincible (Yes, that would be my optimism creeping back in.).
I’ve always held a certain disdain for math and generally avoided the application of the transitive property in sports. But in the spirit of a new year, I’ll entertain some comparisons for a moment. Oklahoma recently burned Florida with a blistering 35-point win at AT&T stadium. Just two weeks earlier, Florida gave Alabama a good scare in the SEC Championship, losing 52-46 to the Tide. Now, OU is not the same team that lost to Kansas State earlier this season, but the point is that Alabama isn’t untouchable. If Notre Dame can keep it within a touchdown heading into the half, they’ve got a chance. But I’ve been spurned by a second-quarter meltdown a few too many times. I hope to be proven wrong, but come Friday I expect the Crimson Tide to simply be too overwhelming.
FINAL SCORE: Alabama 45, Notre Dame 17
Ellen Geyer — Senior Sports Writer
I’m not giving up hope quite yet. In spite of the dumpster fire that was the ACC Championship, I know the Notre Dame team that beat Clemson in November is still in there somewhere. The Irish missed plenty of opportunities the last time they played. Three great drives to open the game and just three points to show for it. A couple of brutal spots and a missed target by Avery Davis didn’t help. Notre Dame couldn’t afford to make mistakes against Clemson, yet they did, and paid dearly for it. If they can avoid shooting themselves in the foot against Alabama, this could be a real game.
Will this be an uphill battle? Certainly. Is this game unwinnable? Absolutely not. It’s a single meeting, not a series — Notre Dame just needs to have a great day. With veterans on offense and defense, and the embarrassment of Clemson behind them, I think the Irish are capable of pulling this one off. The question is whether or not they will. I know it’s my duty as a journalist to be impartial, but it’s also my duty as a student to be loyal to Our Lady’s University. And my predictions have been absurd the entire year, so why stop now? Notre Dame’s going to get this one done.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 35, Alabama 28
Aidan Thomas — Sports Writer
I don’t want to talk. I’m sad. I’m defeated. And, I’m in an extremely toxic relationship with Notre Dame football. I’ll give a small dose of optimism that the Irish keep it within the spread, as Notre Dame can utilize its tight ends, which has been a slight weak spot in the Bama defense. I think the Irish defense will play well, considering expectations, but offense wins championships nowadays, and I don’t think Notre Dame can keep up.
FINAL SCORE: Alabama 37, Notre Dame 20