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Rose Bowl: Alabama crushes Notre Dame, advances to CFP finale

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Rose Bowl: Alabama crushes Notre Dame, advances to CFP finale
Alabama's DeVonta Smith breaks free for a 26-yard touchdown in the first half of the Rose Bowl on Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith connected for three scores on Friday to lead Alabama to a lopsided victory over Notre Dame in the 2021 Rose Bowl and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards, four scores and no interceptions in the 31-14 win at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Smith hauled in seven catches for 130 yards.

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"I was really proud of our players," Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN after the game. "We worked hard. I was really proud of the way we came out and played."

Smith's three receiving scores tied a Rose Bowl record and set an Alabama bowl game record. He was named Rose Bowl MVP for his efforts.

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"It means a lot, but we're not done yet," Smith said.

The Crimson Tide got off to a great start, with touchdowns to end each of their first three drives of the game.

Jones threw a short pass to Smith, who outran Fighting Irish defenders for a 26-yard score, to give Alabama a 7-0 lead about five minutes into the game.

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Jones then threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jahleel Billingsley to double the Alabama lead with 4:19 remaining in the first quarter.

Notre Dame answered with a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Running back Kyren Williams ended the possession with a one-yard rushing score. Alabama responded with another Jones-to-Smith touchdown connection to push the lead back to 14 points.

The Irish forced a Crimson Tide punt on the first possession of the second half before Cristian Harris intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book.

Jones then threw his third touchdown toss to Smith for a 28-7 edge with 4:58 remaining in the third frame. Alabama later ended its next drive with a Will Reichard field goal with 12:45 left in the game.

Notre Dame finally got into an offensive rhythm with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Book ended that possession with a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Irish also recovered an onside kick after the score, but couldn't manage to find the end zone.

Book completed 27 of 39 passes for 229 yards and an interception in the loss. Najee Harris had 15 carries for 125 yards for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama will face Ohio State or Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Ohio State and Clemson face off in the other College Football Playoff Semifinal at 8 p.m. EST on Friday in New Orleans.

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"These guys earned the opportunity to play in National Championship game and we will see what we can do with it," Saban said.

Alabama Defeats Notre Dame in Rose Bowl

Alabama head coach Nick Saban holds the Leishman Trophy after the Crimson Tide defeated Notre Dame in the 2021 Rose Bowl on Friday. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

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