Orange Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
The second semifinal in the College Football Playoff features the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) vs. the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0). Oklahoma is 3-1-1 all-time against Alabama and their 45-31 victory over the Tide in the 2014 Sugar Bowl is still the most points given up by a Nick Saban coached Alabama team. The story lines just keep coming as this is also a battle between the nation’s top two scoring teams with Oklahoma scoring 49.5 points per game and Alabama scoring 47.9. This will also be the first battle between the top two Heisman vote-getters since the 2005 classic between Texas and USC (Vince Young/Reggie Bush). Alabama is a -14 point favorite in the nightcap of the semifinals from the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.
Sooners Passing like Crazy
Oklahoma’s offense certainly did not lose any of its luster despite losing Baker Mayfield to the NFL Draft.Kyler Murray has stepped in to the tune of 4,053 passing yards and 40 touchdowns in the air while also running for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.Murray has been a do-it-all machine for the Sooners as they marched through the Big 12 with only a loss to Texas on their resume. A huge concern for the Sooners coming into this one is their defense. All year, the Oklahoma defense has struggled to keep other teams from scoring points on them and at times it seemed like all of Murray’s heroics were needed.
Oklahoma allowed 40+ points five times this season and finished 269th in the country in points allowed. Although the Sooner defense looked better in the Big 12 title game against Texas, they will need their best effort of the season to slow down Alabama. It does not matter what Murray and the Sooner offense does if they cannot prevent the Tide from marching down field on every possession.
Crimson Tide Do it All
Alabama had the high scoring offense like Oklahoma, but they also had a defense to match it. In situations where the Oklahoma defense crumbled, big games, the Alabama defense shined. The Crimson Tide shut out both LSU and Mississippi State and never allowed more than 31 points in a game this season (during a 65-31 rout of Arkansas). In contrast, the Sooners gave up more than 31 points six times this season. In recent years, the Alabama offense has been known to be a power running offense with limitations on the “big play.” However, that has not been this case this year. Alabama has plays from scrimmage of 73, 59, 81, 94, 57, 76, and 57 yards. This does not bode well for the Sooners defense that has been prone to the big play all year.
Alabama vs Oklahoma Prediction Pick and Prediction
Like the Cotton Bowl, this game has a huge -14 point spread for a college semifinal. The offenses are the units getting all the hype, but this one is going to come down to defense. It is really questionable whether the Oklahoma defense can get the Tide off the field but what is also intriguing is how Oklahoma’s offense will fare against the best defense they have played all season. Expect Alabama to get some stops and Oklahoma to get few, if any. I am taking Alabama to run out to a big lead and then Oklahoma to attempt the backdoor cover.Take Alabama laying the points. Alabama wins 51-34.