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Alabama Does it Again, As Expected

By BJ Bennett
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In terms of storylines, a multi-score win for Alabama wasn't as much impressive as it was inevitable.

The exclusive power of Alabama is that a 17-point win in the College Football Playoff isn't even impressive anymore. It was anticipated. A forgone conclusion. Maybe even disappointing. Though the Crimson Tide completely overwhelmed Notre Dame in yet another showcase performance, this is a program is expects to play the way it just did, if not better. Thing is, everyone else expects it, too. 

More than starting the competition, kickoff just started the clock. That is how most watch Alabama football. 

When the Crimson Tide went up 14-0 midway through the first quarter in Friday night's Rose Bowl, the country simply nodded right along. When they didn't score on their final drive of the first half, we all confusingly wondered why. How?

Such is the Alabama standard, now as unrelenting as ever.   

Less than five minutes into the game, Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones found fellow finalist DeVonta Smith for a 26-yard touchdown strike. Moments later, with the Crimson Tide on a five-play, 97-yard scoring drive, Najee Harris had one of the plays of the year when he completely leaped over a Notre Dame defender in the open field, then landed in stride for a 53-yard catch-and-run. Not long after that, Jones and Smith connected again, this time for a 34-yard touchdown.

At halftime, Alabama was averaging 11.4 yards per pass and 9.0 yards per rush. Jones had as many touchdown passes to his top target as incompletions. The unstoppable Smith had 101 yards receiving. Harris had 93 yards rushing. The Crimson had just four third downs; they converted three of them. Nick Saban still seemed frustrated at intermission and not just with his hearing and the headset for the interview. 

Though Notre Dame held serve midway through much of the third quarter, finding some success at the line of scrimmage, and finished strong, it almost felt like Alabama was keeping the Fighting Irish at arm's length, all with the ability to flip a switch when needed. Even when the Crimson Tide weren't yet completely pulling away, it still seemed like Alabama was in complete control. A precision touchdown pass from Jones to Smith late in the third quarter was perhaps an example. 

Under the bright lights, the Crimson Tide's star power was on clear display. Jones finished 25-of-30 passing for 297 yards and four touchdowns, Harris ran 15 times for 125 yards and a score and Smith caught seven passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Somehow, the game still wasn't very entertaining.  

The Crimson Tide entered the College Football Playoff as the nation's number one seed and the tournament's prohibitive favorite. Once again, they looked and played the part. Simply put, it was more of the same. A rerun of results. It was what almost everybody knew was coming. Almost regardless of opponent, with all due respect to a Notre Dame team that had a great season, the semifinal was Alabama's proverbial tune-up before the final.

In terms of storylines, a multi-score win for Alabama wasn't as much impressive as it was inevitable. There just wasn't much drama. There rarely is.  This is a program that makes the biggest of games boring.

Up next, the Crimson Tide will play for the national championship for the fifth time in six seasons. It's an achievement that isn't fully appreciated. It takes a lot to make history at Alabama. It also takes a lot to make a game interesting.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports