By Tim Peterson
Ah, the Bowl season. Is there anything better? We made it through most of them, the Cheez-it Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, even the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. We also got to see a major brawl break out at the conclusion of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. They weren’t exactly practicing social distancing, no hand sanitizer in sight.
Now on New Year’s day we get to see the best of the Bowls, the College Football Semi Finals, a Rose topped off with some Sugar. Keith Jackson used to refer to the Rose Bowl as the “Granddaddy of them all” because it was the oldest currently operating bowl game. And usually it was the most scenic with the San Gabriel mountains as a backdrop for another sunshine filled Southern California day.
This year we won’t see that backdrop. No mountains, no sunbaked fans taking it all in in the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl is another victim of COVID-19. Instead the game will be played in Texas at AT&T Stadium. It will still be called the Rose Bowl, that won’t change but the location will be much different.
What wont change either when Alabama and Notre Dame take the field on New Year’s day is Notre Dame’s failure in big bowl games. The Irish were blown out 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS Championship in 2013. In the 2018 Semi Final game they were drubbed by Clemson 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State beat Notre Dame in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl 44-28.
Brian Kelly, who is his 11th year as the head coach of the Irish, can get his team to the water but can make them drink. This year will be no different. It’s the Alabama (SEC) against Notre Dame, always an independent until this year, in the season of COVID, (ACC). Notre Dame is consistent, Alabama is elite. Notre Dame is fast, Alabama is lightning. Notre Dame is strong, Alabama is herculean. The Irish will fight but they’ll get rolled by the Tide.
Who’s going to stop Najee Harris? Who’s going to cover Devonta Smith? Alabama lost Tua Tagovailoa and just plugged in Mac Jones. Jones, of course, is now a Heisman Trophy candidate. In fact the Crimson Tide has two Heisman finalists in Smith and Jones and another one that should be in Harris. Their names may be ordinary but their talent is extraordinary.
Ian Book may quarterback the Irish to a couple big plays but Alabama will score early and often. Tide rolls.
Who will meet Alabama in the Championship? It’s been said that Ohio State shouldn’t even be a part of the top four. I don’t agree there. The Buckeyes are unbeaten and had they played their entire schedule they…well…would still be unbeaten. Who was going to beat them? Michigan? C’mon. The Wolverines can’t beat Ohio State in a good year. This year they couldn’t get out of their own way. For Jim Harbaugh, not playing Ohio State was a blessing.
That being said, the Buckeyes aren’t Clemson. the Tigers, like Alabama, have athletes all over the field. Trevor Lawrence looks like a guy worth tanking for. Travis Etienne may be better than Harris. The defense is quick and fast and too much for Ohio State. Ohio State has talent at the skill positions and has the speed to stay with Clemson. This won’t be Alabama-Notre Dame. It won’t be a blow out. Clemson wins by a touchdown.
So find the easy chair, sit back, pop open a cold one, (Pepsi of course) and enjoy the Semi Finals. Maybe even bust out some Cheez-its. Looking at the kick off times it will be one right after the other.
And get ready for another Alabama-Clemson Championship in the last Bowl of the season.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tspeterson40.