Tua Tagovailoa threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns and No. 1-ranked Alabama beat No. 4 Oklahoma 45-34 on Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl.
The high-scoring Sooners reached the semifinal despite a porous defense that was no match for Alabama's diverse attack, and the defending champion Crimson Tide led 28-0 after only 17 minutes.
Alabama (14-0) advanced to the national championship game for the fourth consecutive season and will play Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California against familiar foe Clemson, which beat Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. The Tigers, ranked No. 2, and Alabama will face off in the Playoff for the fourth year in a row, and have split two title games.
"They've got a great program and a great team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I'm sure it'll be a great challenge for us, and I'm sure we'll need to play better than we did today."
Saban spiked his headset during one of his several sideline tirades. He lobbed oranges during the postgame celebration.
"It was more fun throwing the oranges," he said.
Oklahoma's Kyler Murray completed 19 of 37 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns. The Heisman winner also added 109 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Relive the action with our minute-by-minute updates that were posted throughout the game:
Alabama-Oklahoma: Orange Bowl time, TV channel
Alabama and Oklahoma play at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 29, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The game is on ESPN.
Alabama-Oklahoma: Orange Bowl prediction, preview
Kyler Murray might have won Oklahoma's second consecutive Heisman, but he and the Sooners will be huge underdogs against No. 1 Alabama.
Not only is Alabama the reigning champion, but the Tide are only two wins away from capturing the sixth national title in Nick Saban's tenure, just showing how dominant Alabama is when it matters most.
The biggest reason for the Crimson Tide's confidence has to start with Alabama's powerful offense going up against Oklahoma's... not-so-great defense.
Even if QB Tua Tagovaila isn't completely healthy, Jalen Hurts proved he is ready to be the difference-maker again this season thanks to his heroics in rallying the Tide against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
On paper, Oklahoma probably won't offer up too much resistance against Alabama. The Sooners might score 49.5 points per game, but they allow 448 yards and 32 points per game. Those 448 yards rank 108th nationally. Even though some of that is because the offense is so deadly and can score quickly, that's still a huge discrepancy among the rest of the CFP four — Alabama averages more points than Oklahoma, but even the Tide surrender only 295.4 yards per game (10th in the country).
Murray might need to play an almost-perfect game, with the Sooners turning this into a shootout with a score approaching arena football levels. Turnovers could be the great equalizer, but Alabama is too tested and too good to go against now.
Alabama-Oklahoma: Stats, how they compare
|13-0 (8-0 SEC West)||Record (Conference)||12-1 (8-0 Big 12)|
|No. 1||CFP ranking||No. 4|
|47.9||Points per game||49.5|
|527.6||Yards per game||577.9|
|295.4||Yards allowed per game||448.1|
|178.4||Passing yards allowed||291.4|
|117.0||Rushing yards allowed||156.7|
3,353 yards (37 TDs, 4 INTs)
|Passing yards leader||Kyler Murray
4,053 yards (40 TDs, 7 INTs)
771 yards, 7 TDs
|Rushing yards leader||Kennedy Brooks
1,021 yards, 12 TDs
1,103 yards, 12 TDs
|Receiving yards leader||Marquise Brown
1,318 yards, 10 TDs
66 total tackles, 18 tfl, 8 sacks
|Defensive leader||Kenneth Murray
140 total tackles, 12 tfl, 4 sacks
Alabama-Oklahoma: Score prediction
There might be only so much Heisman winner Murray can do to keep the Sooners in this for the entire game. Even if Murray plays well, the Sooners probably won't have enough on defense to slow down the Tide — and that's even if Tagovailoa isn't 100 percent.
Alabama 42, Oklahoma 28