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No. 1 Alabama defeats No. 4 Notre Dame in Rose Bowl to reach title game

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws from the pocket in the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Alabama rolled into another College Football Playoff championship game.

DeVonta Smith caught three of fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones’ four touchdown passes, Najee Harris ran for 125 yards with a high-hurdling highlight and top-ranked Alabama beat No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in the relocated Rose Bowl game Friday to reach its fifth CFP title game.

While the location for this Rose Bowl was truly untraditional, the Crimson Tide (12-0, No. 1 CFP) playing for the national title is a common occurrence in seven seasons of the CFP.

The Crimson Tide earned a spot in the Jan. 11 championship game in Miami, against No. 2 Clemson or No. 3 Ohio State. The Tigers and Buckeyes played in the other CFP semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.

Notre Dame (10-2, No. 4 CFP), in football’s final four for only the second time, has lost seven consecutive New Year’s Six games since 2000.

Alabama led 14-0 after scoring the first two times it had the ball, including an 97-yard drive on which Harris leaped over 6-foot cornerback Nick McCloud just after crossing the line of scrimmage, landed on both feet and then sprinted for a 53-yard gain before getting run out of bounds. Jones threw a 12-yard TD pass to tight end Jahleel Billingsley on the next play.

That touchdown came between drives when Smith, who has 16 touchdown catches in his last seven games, turned short passes into scores of 26 and 34 yards. Smith finished with seven catches for 130 yards, added a nifty toe-tapping 7-yarder in the front corner of the end zone right on the pylon in the middle of the third quarter. Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards.

CFP officials moved the Rose Bowl about 1,400 miles because of COVID-19 restrictions in California that would have kept family — or any fans — from attending the game at its normal home in Pasadena. There was a limited capacity crowd of 18,373 at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys,.

It was another thud of a finish for the Fighting Irish winning all 10 regular-season games, including a home victory over Clemson. But Notre Dame then lost 34-10 in the ACC title game to the Tigers.

PEACH BOWL

NO. 11 GEORGIA 24, NO. 6 CINCINNATI 21

ATLANTA (AP) — Jack Podlesny kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds remaining, and Georgia handed Cincinnati its only loss of the season with a dramatic victory in the Peach Bowl.

Georgia (8-2) trailed 21-10 in the fourth quarter, but clamped down on Desmond Ridder and Cincinnati and JT Daniels helped rally the Bulldogs with his arm. Daniels finished with 392 yards passing.

Podlesny’s third field goal was his longest of the season and gave Georgia a 22-21 lead. Azeez Ojulari sacked Ridder for a safety on the final play. It was Ojulari’s third sack. Georgia tied a school record with eight sacks.

Ridder completed 24 of 37 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Jerome Ford added a career-long 79-yard touchdown run early in the second half but it wasn’t enough for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati (9-1) was motivated to use the Peach Bowl to gain national respect. Coach Luke Fickell wanted the Bearcats to be included in this season’s playoff and he said it was an opportunity to be judged evenly with Power 5 teams in the future.

CITRUS BOWL

NO. 15 NORTHWESTERN 35, AUBURN 19

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Peyton Ramsey threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score and Northwestern’s defense made it stand up against Auburn in the Citrus Bowl,

Ramsey, a graduate transfer, had 291 yards passing and 50 yards rushing to help Northwestern (7-2) win its fourth straight bowl game. Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Brown, John Raine and Riley Lees had touchdown catches for the Wildcats, coming off a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

Bo Nix threw for 292 yards for Auburn (6-5), The Tigers were led by interim coach Kevin Steele following the Dec. 13 firing of Gus Malzahn. Bryan Harsin is taking after seven seasons at Boise State.


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