Alabama Defeats Oklahoma In Orange Bowl To Set Up Title Game Rematch With Clemson

Kevin C. CoxGetty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl College Football Playoff Semi-Final, 45-34, to set up a rematch against Clemson in the National Championship Game.

Alabama jumped out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter after Tua Tagovailoa’s second touchdown pass of the night, then never let Oklahoma get within the final 11-point margin the rest of the way to punch their ticket to their fourth straight national championship game, where they will meet Clemson for the third time in the last four seasons.

Tagovailoa was outstanding once again, completing 24-of-27 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns on the night. The Crimson Tide punished the much-maligned Oklahoma defense, as the offensive line paved the way for Alabama to roll up 200 yards rushing and did not allow a sack. The Crimson Tide gained 528 total yards on the night.

Oklahoma, which had the greatest offense in the history of college football this season, started slowly on offense, as the Alabama defense shut them out until 11:48 of the second quarter, but Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray eventually got the Sooners firing on all cylinders. However, after spotting Alabama 28 points, it was too little, too late. Murray accounted for 418 of Oklahoma’s 471 yards, almost singlehandedly willing the Sooners back into the game. He finished 19-of-37 for 309 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 109 yards and a third touchdown.

The Sooners missed marquee wideout Marquise Brown, who tried to play through a hamstring injury but failed to record a catch in the game.

Alabama’s defense did an outstanding job shutting down the Oklahoma running game. Oklahoma’s running backs, Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks, could only muster 54 yards on 15 carries.

Oklahoma did get the game within striking distance after a 10-yard touchdown pass from Murray to CeeDee Lamb pulled the Sooners within 11 at 38-27 with 8:31 left to play, but a touchdown pass by Tagovailoa on Alabama’s ensuing drive sealed the win for the Crimson Tide.

Despite the convincing win over a quality opponent, Alabama coach Nick Saban felt that his team did not execute well and could have played much better.

“There’s a lot of things that we could do better,” Saban told ESPN after the game. “We got a lot of untimely penalties in this game that really either extended drives for them or stopped us so there’s a lot of things that we need to focus on to improve.”

Alabama will meet Clemson for the national title on Monday, January 7.