Notre Dame is back in the College Football Playoff, but it’s hard to feel great about the Fighting Irish’s chances.
That’s mostly because they will face the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide, the No. 1 team in the country.
Notre Dame also has a poor track record in big games under head coach Brian Kelly. In the ACC Championship Game, Clemson blew out the Irish by 24.
Clemson outgained Notre Dame by 278 yards and led 34-3 at one point.
And Alabama is likely better than Clemson. Here’s a look at every college football bowl line, including the Rose Bowl odds below.
Alabama vs. Notre Dame odds
The largest CFP spread ever was in 2018, when Alabama was favored by 14.5 over Oklahoma.
So, this game will likely be the largest CFP spread ever.
And for a good reason. While Notre Dame is a good team, it hasn’t shown the ability to compete against the likes of Alabama and Clemson in the Kelly era.
The most recent Clemson matchup best illustrates that point, as it’s the same year.
But consider this from our Notre Dame vs. Clemson preview:
Three of Notre Dame’s highest-profile bowl games over the last decade have happened in 2012, 2015 and 2018.
The 2012 game was for the national title against Alabama, the 2015 game was the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, and the 2018 bout was a College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson.
Notre Dame is 0-3 with a -71 point differential in those three contests. And the Irish lost 30-3 to Clemson in 2018, with Trevor Lawrence and Ian Book as the starting quarterbacks.
Book is still the Notre Dame quarterback, and although he’s having a quality season, he’s averaging fewer yards per attempt as a senior than he did then as a sophomore.
The Fighting Irish defense also had no answers for Lawrence in the ACC title game, as he accounted for 412 yards of offense.
And while Mac Jones isn’t the NFL prospect that Lawrence is, he’s a ridiculously good college quarterback. It’s hard to envision Notre Dame slowing down this Crimson Tide attack.
Star power galore for Alabama
Alabama has two of the four Heisman finalists. Najee Harris, the starting running back, earned the fifth-most votes.
Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith are the two finalists. Smith has 98 catches for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, while Jones has thrown for 3,739 yards, 32 touchdowns and four interceptions.
That’s only been in 11 games, so Smith is averaging 137.3 receiving yards per game.
As a team, Alabama has scored at least 41 points in every game since its season-opener against Missouri. The Crimson Tide have beaten every opponent except for Florida by double-digits.
With that said, the Alabama defense was human against the Gators. Florida hung 46 points on Nick Saban’s group, and that was Alabama’s most recent outing.
But before you expect that kind of production out of Notre Dame, consider that Kyle Trask is Florida’s quarterback. Trask has 43 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season and should go in the first round of the NFL Draft this spring.
Prior to the SEC Championship game, Alabama was on an excellent defensive run, allowing no more than 17 points in six straight outings.
As we get closer to kickoff, don’t be surprised to see the betting public jump all over Alabama, perhaps pushing the line past three touchdowns.
At what point is there betting value on Notre Dame? Perhaps we’re already there, but betting on Kelly’s squad vs. an opponent of this stature may be too tough to stomach.