In yet another twist in an already strange college football season, this year's Rose Bowl won't be played in sunny Pasadena and fragranced by the smell of fresh roses from the nearby parade.
Rather, the game serving as the College Football Playoff semifinal between Notre Dame and Alabama will be played in Arlington, Texas, at the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
"Just this once," the Pasadena City Council will allow the Texas semifinal game to call itself the "Rose Bowl Game" as the Tournament of Roses relocates the game to Texas, a week after the council met in closed session to debate the issue.
It's just the second time in history the Rose Bowl won't be played in California, the first coming on New Year's Day 1942, when the game was played at Duke.
The Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide, however, aren't as concerned about where they're playing as who they're playing. Let's break down how you can tune in to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, as well as what you should watch for when you do.
Rose Bowl 2021
Date: January 1, 2021
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Matchup: CFP semifinal between Notre Dame and Alabama
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Odds: Alabama (-20.5); Over/Under 66.5
Alabama spent the full five weeks after the College Football Playoff poll released its rankings in the top spot.
The rest of the order of the top four spots shifted slightly during that time—Notre Dame, for instance, found itself ranked No. 2 in the first four weeks before finishing at No. 4—but the four teams themselves never changed: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame, of course, fell to the bottom of the Top Four after losing to Clemson 34-10, causing the Tigers to leapfrog the Fighting Irish in the final rankings. Notre Dame clung to its place in the top four, edging out Texas A&M, which finished No. 5, and Oklahoma, No. 6.
It's no surprise, then, that Notre Dame is such an underdog in this matchup between No. 1 and No. 4. In fact, underdog may not even cover it; the 20.5-point spread between the two teams is the largest in the history of the College Football Playoff.
It's hard to bet against the Crimson Tide and their surgical consistency. Quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith are Heisman Trophy finalists; Smith was also named AP Player of the Year and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Jones, meanwhile, has the best passer rating in the country.
Alabama's offense was historic even by its own standards; during the regular season, the Crimson Tide averaged 49.5 points per game. In the SEC Championship Game, Alabama memorably dropped 52 points and 605 yards of total offense on Florida.
Meanwhile, in the ACC title game, Notre Dame mustered just 10 points to Clemson's 34 and only 263 yards of total offense to Clemson's 541.
It's not a direct parallel, of course, and Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly has insisted his team belongs in the semifinal.
Alabama, however, will be the final judge of that on Friday.
Prediction: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 21
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