Canuck Metchie, top-ranked Crimson Tide to take on 4 Notre Dame in Rose Bowl showdown

·7 min read

Now the real fun begins for Canadian John Metchie III and the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama, ranked first in The Associated Press top-25 NCAA football poll, improved to 11-0 on Saturday with a 52-46 win over No. 11 Florida in the SEC title game. That secured the Tide a berth in the U.S. college football playoff and a Rose Bowl showdown with No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1) on Jan. 1 in Arlington, Texas.

Alabama is listed as a whopping 19-point favourite.

The winner will face either No. 2 Clemson (10-1) or No. 3 Ohio State (6-0) in the national championship contest Jan. 11. The Tigers and Buckeyes will also square off Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Metchie III, a six-foot, 195-pound sophomore receiver from Brampton, Ont., has enjoyed a solid first season as a starter at Alabama, registering 44 catches for 782 yards and six touchdowns. And although he finished with four receptions for 62 yards against Florida, Metchie III's biggest play came during a Gators interception return.

As Florida defender Trey Dean III was returning the pick, he was levelled by Metchie III and fumbled. Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith recovered and on the next play had a 31-yard TD grab that put the Crimson Tide ahead 14-7 in the first quarter.

"That was a great play, no doubt," Tide head coach Nick Saban told reporters after the game. "Not a great play for us, for them to get an interception, but for guys to keep hustling."

Saban said Alabama begins every practice with ball-security drills, something he figures proved beneficial to Metchie III.

"He's always on the other end of that . . . so he knows exactly what the defensive players are trying to do to get the ball out because we do it every day and he's the other guy." Saban said. "I'm sure that those experiences of working every day against the defensive players trying to get it out on him was where he got the idea of how to get it out.

"But it was a big play in the game. We were down in the red zone and when you turn it over down there it's a double whammy a lot of times. So to get the ball back was really important and then to be able to score was huge."

Metchie III won't be the only Canadian suiting up for a playoff game Jan 1. Ajou Ajou of Brooks, Alta., is a six-foot-three 215-pound freshman receiver who has cracked Clemson's roster this season.

The final is Jan. 11 in Miami.


NO BOWL: There will be no bowl game this year for Canadian Josh Palmer and the Tennessee Volunteers.

Tennessee (3-7) was scheduled to face West Virginia on Dec. 31 in the Liberty Bowl. But those plans were nixed due to COVID-19 cases within the Volunteers program.

Palmer, a six-foot-two, 210-pound senior receiver from Brampton, Ont., finished the season with a team-high 33 catches for 475 yards and four TDs. He had three receptions for 55 yards in Tennessee's 34-13 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday.

Palmer has accepted an invitation to participate in next month's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.


OTHER BOWLS: There'll be a host of Canadians involved in bowl games over the holidays. Some of the notable include:


Camellia Bowl

Buffalo (5-1) vs Marshall (7-2)

The Bulls are coming off their first loss of the season, a 38-28 decision to Ball State in the MAC title game. Buffalo has four Canadians on its roster: Dominic Johnson, a six-foot-five, 225-pound senior receiver from Windsor, Ont.; Cole Burniston, a six-foot-three, 245-pound sophomore tight end from Grimsby, Ont.; Deondre Doiron, a six-foot-four, 285-pond freshman offensive lineman from London, Ont.; and Gabe Wallace, a six-foot-six, 315-pound sophomore offensive lineman from Salmon Arm, B.C.


Cure Bowl

No. 9 Coastal Carolina (11-0) vs No. 23 Liberty (9-1)

These two teams were scheduled to meet during the season but their game was cancelled due to the pandemic. Enock Makonzo, a five-foot-11, 195-pound junior linebacker/defensive back from Lachine, Que., has enjoyed a solid season for Coastal Carolina, registering 66 tackles (41 solo, nine for a loss) with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Wilt Gabe II, a six-foot-three, 230-pound sophomore defensive lineman from Montreal, is also on the Chanticleers roster.

John Kourtis, a six-foot-four, 315-pound redshirt sophomore centre from Toronto, is on Liberty's roster, The team's co-offensive co-ordinator and quarterback coach is Kent Austin, a former CFL player, head coach and GM, most recently with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Dec. 29

Cheez-It Bowl

No. 18 Miami (8-2) vs Oklahoma State (7-3)

Oklahoma State will be without running back Chuba Hubbard of Sherwood Park, Alta., who has opted out and declared for the 2021 NFL draft. Calgary's Amen Ogbongbemiga, a six-foot-one, 235-pound redshirt senior linebacker, has recorded a team-high 76 tackles (47 solo, five for a loss) with two sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries for the Cowboys.

Dec. 30

Music City Bowl

No. 17 Iowa (6-2) vs Missouri (5-5)

Iowa has reeled off six straight wins, but this week suspended in-person football activities until Saturday due to positive COVID-19 tests. Alaric Jackson, a six-foot-six, 315-pound senior offensive lineman from Windsor, Ont., was a first team All-Big 10 selection for the Hawkeyes.

Dec. 31

Liberty Bowl

West Virginia (5-4) vs Army (9-2)

Army replaces Tennessee as West Virginia's opposition. A win would give the Black Knights a 10-win season for the third time in four years. The Mountaineers defence features defensive lineman Ahkeem Mesidor and cornerback Alonzo Addae, both Canadians.

Mesidor, a six-foot-two, 268-pound freshman from Ottawa, had a team-high five sacks this season. Addae, a five-foot-11, 189-pound redshirt senior from Pickering, Ont., had 61 tackles (33 solo, 0.5 for a loss) with a forced fumble and two interceptions.

Jan. 1

Peach Bowl

No. 8 Cincinnati (9-0) vs No. 9 Georgia (7-2)

Bruno Labelle, a six-foot-four, 248-pound senior tight end from Montreal. had eight catches for 61 yards this season for Cincinnati.

Jan 2

Outback Bowl

Ole Miss (4-5) vs No. 7 Indiana (6-1)

Deane Leonard, a six-foot-two, 195-pound senior defensive back from Calgary, and Tavius Robinson, a six-foot-seven, 245-pound junior linebacker from Guelph, Ont., both transferred to Ole Miss from the Vanier Cup-champion Calgary Dinos and Guelph Gryphons, respectively, this off-season. Leonard had 13 tackles (eight solo) this season while Robinson recorded 17 tackles (nine solo, 1.5 for a loss) with a sack.

D.K. Bonhomme, a six-foot-three, 235-pound sophomore linebacker from Ottawa, had 14 tackles (10 solo) and a sack this season for Indiana.

Jan 2

Gator Bowl

Kentucky (4-6) vs No. 24 North Carolina State (8-3)

It's been a terrific season for Daniel Joseph, a six-foot-three, 265-pound defensive end from Toronto who's had 32 tackles (17 solo, 10 for a loss) with 6.5 sacks for North Carolina State. Daniel transferred as a graduate student from Penn State.

Jan 2

Orange Bowl

No. 5 Texas A&M (8-1) vs No. 14 North Carolina (8-3)

Patrice Rene, a six-foot-three, 205-pound senior defensive back from Ottawa, has recorded 28 tackles (20 solo) with a forced fumble in five games for North Carolina.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Lamar Goods, a six-foot-four, 290-pound freshman defensive tackle, is on Florida's roster. The Gators (8-3) meet Oklahoma (8-2) in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 30. Goods' father, Bennie, played 10 CFL seasons with Edmonton (1990-98) and Winnipeg (1999-2000), winning a Grey Cup in 1993 with the Eskimos . . . Nick Wiebe, a six-foot-one, 230-pound sophomore linebacker from Calgary. had two tackles (one solo) in two games this season with No. 25 Oregon. The Ducks (4-2) face No. 10 Iowa State (8-3) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press