Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris has stunned college football fans with a “Superman” leap against Notre Dame on Saturday AEDT.
During the College Football Playoff semi-final in Texas, Harris casually hurdled six-foot cornerback Nick McCloud before sprinting through for a 53-yard gain.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones then threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jahleel Billingsley, completing a stunning sequence of events at AT&T Stadium.
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Harris’ leap inevitably sent social media into a frenzy, even prompting reaction from Los Angeles Lakers icon Magic Johnson.
“Najee Harris’ leap over the Notre Dame defender was the best play I’ve ever seen because that’s the first time I’ve seen a player jump over a defender standing straight up!” Johnson tweeted.
No. 1 seeded Alabama eventually won the annual Rose Bowl event 31-14, continuing its undefeated 2020/21 season to reach a fifth CFP title game in seven years.
Jones completed 25 of 30 passes for 297 yards, while Harris ran 125 yards. Meanwhile, teammate DeVonta Smith finished with seven catches for 130 yards, including three touchdowns.
Notre Dame has now lost seven consecutive New Year’s games since 2000, much to the frustration of coach Brian Kelly.
“This wasn’t a matter of getting knocked off the ball or not having enough players to compete against Alabama,” Kelly said. “This was about making plays. They made plays on the perimeter. They have the college football player of the year (Smith), who made some dynamic plays. We battled, we were right there.
“We’re gonna keep getting back here, and I’m sorry if you don’t like it, or if the national media doesn’t like it, but we’re gonna go back to work. We’re gonna keep recruiting and we’re gonna put ourselves back in this position again.”
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Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book completed 27 of 39 passes for 229 yards and an interception, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a heavy defeat.
The Rose Bowl is traditionally held in Pasadena, California, but due to coronavirus restrictions was moved to Arlington in front of 18,373 spectators.
Later that day, the Ohio State Buckeyes trumped the Clemson Tigers 49-28 in New Orleans to book the other spot in next week’s decider.
The Crimson Tide will face Ohio State on Monday, January 11th for the title.
France is at an “emergency” alert level and is doubling the number of soldiers deployed across the country after the killings of three people, including one who was reportedly decapitated, at the Notre Dame Basilica in the southern city of Nice.
A man armed with a knife attacked two women and a man at the church on Thursday morning (Thursday evening AEDT) before he was shot by police. As he lay wounded, the Nice mayor said the attacker repeated “Allahu Akbar” over and over. French authorities have opened a terrorism investigation.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the country would raise its alert level to “emergency”.
President Emmanuel Macron said he would immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3000 currently to 7000. French churches have been ferociously attacked by extremists in recent years, and Thursday’s killings come ahead of the Roman Catholic All Saints’ holiday.
The Nice attack is the third in two months in France that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher. It comes during a growing furore over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo — renewing vociferous debate in France and the Muslim world over the depictions that Muslims consider offensive but are protected by French free speech laws
Other confrontations and attacks were reported on Thursday in the southern French city of Avignon and in the Saudi city of Jiddah, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to the attack in Nice.
The Nice assailant, who was armed with a knife, was wounded by police and hospitalised after the killings at the Notre Dame Church, less than 1km from the site in 2016 where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens.
Police were not searching for any other assailants.
“It seems that, according to the first findings of the police, the woman who was inside the church has been decapitated. For the other victims, we cannot say anything at the moment,” said mayor Christian Estrosi, telling BFM television that three people had died, two inside the church and a third who fled but was mortally wounded.
“He cried ‘Allahu Akbar’ over and over, even after he was injured. The meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”
Shots punctuated the air and witnesses screamed as police stationed at the grandiose doors to the church appeared to fire at the attacker inside, according to videos obtained by The Associated Press.
Hours later, AP reporters at the scene saw emergency vehicles and police tape lining the wide Notre Dame Avenue leading toward the plaza in front of the basilica. For a time after the attack, sounds of explosions could be heard as sappers exploded suspicious objects.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the attack, the third one since a trial began in September for people linked to the 2015 attacks at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket by gunmen who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. The trial is nearing its end, with a verdict planned for November 13, the fifth anniversary of another series of deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.
Thursday’s attacker was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other assailants, said two police officials, who were not authorised to be publicly named.
“With the attack against (teacher) Samual Paty, it was freedom of speech that was targeted. With this attack in Nice, it is freedom of religion,” Mr Castex told lawmakers.
Earlier, the lower house of parliament suspended a debate on France’s new virus restrictions and held a moment of silence for the victims. Mr Castex rushed from the hall to a crisis centre overseeing the aftermath of the Nice attack and later returned to announce the alert level increase.
Muslims have held protests in several countries and called for a boycott of French goods in response to France’s stance on caricatures of Islam’s most revered prophet, whose birthday was marked in several countries Thursday. Soon before Thursday’s attack, supporters of religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam protested in Pakistan against Macron.
In Avignon on Thursday morning, an armed man was shot to death by police after he refused to drop his weapon and a flash-ball shot failed to stop him, one police official said. And a Saudi state-run news agency said a man stabbed a guard at the French consulate in Jiddah, wounding the guard before he was arrested.
Islamic State extremists had issued a video on Wednesday renewing calls for attacks against France.
Many groups and nations, however, issued their condolences Thursday, standing firmly with France.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith condemned the Nice attack and called on French Muslims to refrain from festivities this week marking the birth of Muhammad “as a sign of mourning and in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attack in Nice. “We stand in solidarity with the people of France against terror and violence,” the statement said.
Relations between Turkey and France hit a new low after Turkey’s president on Saturday accused Macron of Islamophobia over the caricatures and questioned his mental health, prompting Paris to recall its ambassador to Turkey for consultations.
The attack in Nice came less than two weeks after another assailant beheaded a French middle school teacher who showed the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a class on free speech. Those caricatures were published by Charlie Hebdo and cited by the men who gunned down the newspaper’s editorial meeting in 2015.
In September, a man who had sought asylum in France attacked bystanders outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices with a butcher knife.
French Roman Catholic sites have been ferociously and repeatedly targeted by extremists in recent years, including the killing of the Rev. Jaqcues Hamel, who had his throat slit while celebrating Mass in his Normandy church by Islamic militants and a plot to bomb Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, which also is believed to have recruited a man now on trial who plotted unsuccessfully to attack a church on the outskirts of Paris.
Nice’s 19th-century basilica Notre Dame de l’Assomption is the largest church in the city, but smaller and newer than the cathedral 2km away. The basilica’s twin neogothic towers, standing 65 metres high, are a landmark feature in the heart of the city.
It remains to be seen whether Notre Dame football takes off from here, but Brian Kelly’s team finally seems to be on the other side of a COVID-19 scare that threatened to derail the season.
Ranked fourth in the country and set to host unranked Louisville on Saturday afternoon, Kelly’s Fighting Irish enjoyed a practice week without a single player in quarantine or self-isolation. The last time Kelly could say that was almost six weeks ago, back on Sept. 8.
“This felt as back to normal as we’ve had,” Kelly told reporters on Thursday. “Even more so than Duke week. This felt like a normal work week you would have during a non-COVID season.”
Top punt returner Lawrence Keys III was still recovering from a concussion, and left tackle Liam Eichenberg was still dealing with a massive shiner after getting poked in the left eye. But the team Kelly was about to send out for an expected walloping of the Cardinals was pretty much the same one he hopes to have at his disposal when top-ranked Clemson visits three weeks from now.
Kelly could sense the decrease in team anxiety.
“Our guys felt a lot more comfortable,” he said. “Had a number of tests where they were negative. That wasn’t the topic of conversation.”
Florida State gashed Clark Lea’s defense for 26 points and a handful of long gains, but Kelly was willing to write off some of that to the combination of rust and the logistical repercussions of COVID-19.
“There were some factors that were unique,” Kelly said. “A lot of those guys weren’t practicing during the week, and it showed.”
If the 16-point win over the Seminoles was essentially a Season Opener Redux for Kelly’s group, he’s viewing this Louisville game as a second crack at Week 2. The first one went swimmingly in a 52-0 win over South Florida, but days later the virus threw the Irish for a big loss.
The trip to Wake Forest was first postponed, then later tacked onto the end of the regular-season schedule in December. Practices were canceled, meetings were done remotely again and the complete focus once more was on restoring the collective health of the team.
When they made it all the way back after three weeks without playing, the Irish had team trainer Rob Hunt and team Dr. Matt Leiszler to thank. Fittingly, Kelly bestowed game balls upon both of them after the FSU win.
Even though positive tests have begun to climb again among the general campus population, Kelly and his staff remain optimistic the worst is behind the Irish football program.
“You feel complete; you’ve got your team together,” he said. “They know what we put in place is effective. We went to a new testing procedure over the weekend, and everything has come back clean. That builds a lot of momentum within the group.”
Democrats have pounced on an open letter signed by 88 faculty members at the University of Notre Dame calling on Judge Amy Coney Barrett to withdraw herself from being considered for the Supreme Court until after the November election. Yet not one of the signatories is from the Notre Dame Law School.
The letter starts by congratulating Barrett on her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court but quickly pivots and urges her to step down, calling the nomination process “rushed” and “an exercise in raw power politics.”
The letter concedes that Barrett is not responsible for the supposedly “anti-democratic machinations” driving her nomination but urges her to “refuse to be a party to such maneuvers.”
“We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice,” the letter says.
The signatories’ fields of study are diverse, spanning STEM subjects to the humanities, but not a single one of the 88 names have any law credentials.
This glaring fact was widely ridiculed on Twitter for its blatant attempt to provide more fodder for why the nomination process shouldn’t proceed.
The letter comes less than a week after a group of more than 50 law professors sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing their support for Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The 53 signatories described themselves as “diverse” in their views about President Donald Trump and the controversial timing of the nomination.
“We share the belief, however, that Judge Barrett is exceptionally well qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, and we urge the Senate to confirm her as an associate justice,” they wrote.
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP)
Barrett has also received the highest, “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, though she is the first nominee since Clarence Thomas who did not receive a unanimous assessment.
The nomination of Barrett has provoked a firestorm of criticism from Democrats who accuse Republicans of hypocrisy for moving forward with the process after they refused to hold confirmation hearings on President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, an election year.
Barrett’s Catholic faith has also received scrutiny – even well before her nomination – from critics who fear it will influence her decision making, particularly on abortion.
The University of Notre Dame suspended all in-person classes for at least two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak on campus, including 147 cases, was detected on August 18. The announcement happened just eight days after the beginning of the fall semester, according to news reports. The university said in a post on its website that it had recorded a steady increase in confirmed coronavirus cases among students, mainly seniors living off-campus. University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins also asked students to help in identifying others who had been violating safety protocols. The video seen here taken on August 16 shows students ignoring social distancing while gathered outside at night on campus grounds. Credit: Anonymous via Storyful
Notre Dame Cathedral”s forecourt opened up to the public for the first time since the devastating fire of April 15 last year.
The body overseeing the Gothic structure’s restoration issued a statement on Sunday saying that the reopening was finally made possible after several deep cleaning operations took place to remove toxic lead dust from the large forecourt.
Dozens of tons of lead went up in flames during the fire, sending tons of poisonous dust onto the surrounding ground.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo joined senior clergy on a visit to the area on Sunday afternoon, saying it was an “immense pleasure” to catch up with them “for the reopening of the Notre Dame forecourt”, which she described as a form of “renaissance”.
French Culture minister Franck Riester said the reopening was “a very important moment”, adding that it was delayed “because of lead pollution and questions of confinement”.
To protect public health, the site will continue to be regularly cleaned, and samples will be taken for monitoring and analysis purposes.
The cathedral is still closed and will remain closed until 2024, at least.
At the moment it is unclear whether a chapel will be installed in the forecourt before that date.
However Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said that there is probably going to be something “more modest”, possibly a representation of the Virgin Mary.