No. 1 Alabama handles No. 4 Notre Dame in College Football Playoff semifinal at Rose Bowl

Alabama moved one win from its sixth national title under coach Nick Saban with an overwhelming 31-14 defeat of Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl.

The Crimson Tide, the top seed in the College Football Playoff, will face the winner of the other semifinal between Clemson and Ohio State being played at the Sugar Bowl later Friday.

In a matchup between one of the nation's top offenses and best defenses, Alabama, ranked second in scoring at 49.7 a game, overwhelmed Notre Dame, which was allowing only 18.6 points.

The stars for the Crimson Tide were again front and center. Senior quarterback Mac Jones was 26-of-31 for 303 yards and four touchdowns. Fellow All-Americans DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris were also impressive. Smith had seven catches for 130 yards and three scores, and Harris ran for 125 yards on 15 carries, including a 53-yard carry where he hurdled a standing Fighting Irish defender.

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith splits the Notre Dame defense on his way to score a touchdown during the College Football Playoff semifinal hosted by the Rose Bowl in AT&T Stadium. (Photo: Gary Cosby, USA TODAY Sports)

Smith and Jones are finalists for the Heisman Trophy which will be awarded Tuesday. 

It is the second playoff loss in three years for Notre Dame. They fell to Clemson 30-3 in 2018, though the Irish kept the game close for much of the first half.

This one was less dramatic as Alabama moved 79, 97 and 84 yards for touchdowns on its first three drives. The Crimson Tide barely were slowed as they faced just three second downs and one third downs combined on those possessions. Smith finished off the first and third drives with touchdown catches.

After taking a 21-7 lead into halftime, Alabama effectively put the game out of reach when Jones hit Smith for a 7-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter after Christian Jones intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book. 

Book struggled in what likely is his final college game, finishing 27-of-39 for 229 yards. He added a rushing touchdown in the final minute.

Saban has not gone more than two years without winning a national title since starting his tenure at Alabama in 2007. The Crimson Tide last won the College Football Playoff in 2017. This will be their fifth appearance in the title game since the playoff system began with the 2014 season. 

Saban also won a national title with LSU in 2003. He is tied with former Alabama coach Bear Bryant with the most championships in Bowl Subdivision history.

The Rose Bowl was moved from Pasadena, California, to Arlington, Texas, due to restriction put in place by local authorities. 

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