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Joe Boozell | NCAA.com | December 30, 2018

Alabama defeats Oklahoma to advance to College Football Playoff championship

Alabama heads to the national title game for the fourth straight year

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.

MORE: Alabama vs. Oklahoma final stats

HIGHLIGHTS: Clemson rolls past Notre Dame | Alabama wins shootout with Oklahoma

"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:

MORE: All-time history, recent matchups between Alabama and Clemson

MORE: College football teams with the most national championships

 

 

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.

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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.

MORE: Top 25 scores, schedule for bowl games

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.

MORE: Final College Football Playoff rankings

Alabama-Oklahoma: Stats, how they compare

Alabama Stat/Leader Oklahoma
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
14.8 Points allowed 32.4
527.6 Yards per game 577.9
325.5 Passing ypg 324.0
202.2 Rushing ypg 253.9
295.4 Yards allowed per game 448.1
178.4 Passing yards allowed 291.4
117.0 Rushing yards allowed 156.7
Tua Tagovailoa

3,353 yards (37 TDs, 4 INTs)
Passing yards leader Kyler Murray

4,053 yards (40 TDs, 7 INTs)
Damien Harris

771 yards, 7 TDs
Rushing yards leader Kennedy Brooks

1,021 yards, 12 TDs
Jerry Jeudy

1,103 yards, 12 TDs
Receiving yards leader Marquise Brown

1,318 yards, 10 TDs
Quinnen Williams

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

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