Alabama defeats Sooners 45-34 in the Orange Bowl
MIAMI, Fla. – On a humid December night in Miami, two of the top teams in the country faced off with a berth in the national title game on the line.
Despite having the nation’s top rated offense and a Heisman Trophy winner in the pocket, the Sooners were listed as the underdogs when most analysts chose Alabama as a two-touchdown favorite in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
After winning the coin toss, the Sooners decided to defer so Alabama would get the ball to start the game.
On the first play of the game, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed a pass downfield to Devonta Smith, where he gained 50 yards. After a couple of rushing plays, the Tide went back to the air on third down to Damien Harris, getting the first down.
What appeared to be a fumble recovery by the Sooner defense was taken away when the refs ruled that the ball carrier’s elbow was down. On the next play, Alabama’s Damien Harris punched it in for the first score of the game.
The Alabama offense went seven plays for 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead.
On Oklahoma’s first series, OU went three-and-out after quarterback Kyler Murray was sacked twice. After a short kick, Alabama received the ball at its own 45 yard line.
Alabama was able to continue to march back up the field, and the Crimson Tide scored its second touchdown of the game when Henry Ruggs III caught a pass from Tua Tagovailoa in the corner of the endzone. Alabama led 14-0.
After a play that was originally ruled as a backward pass that was recovered by the defense was overturned, the Sooners couldn’t get a rhythm and were forced to punt again.
On the second play, Tagovailoa completed a long pass to Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. A few plays later, Damien Harris ran in for another touchdown, bringing the lead to 21-0.
Officials say Alabama’s 21 points are the most points scored in a first quarter in Orange Bowl history.
At the end of the first quarter, Murray had only completed one pass to Grant Calcaterra. However, that drive ended after OU turned the ball over on downs.
As the end of the first quarter came to an end, Alabama led 21-0.
OU’s defense looked as if it couldn’t get a break since OU’s offense was struggling to move the chains, and Alabama put both quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurst into the game.
After Alabama’s Josh Jacobs caught a pass and was running it into the end zone, OU’s Robert Barnes was injured while trying to stop the play.
With 13 minutes left in the second quarter, Alabama led 28-0.
On OU’s first possession of the second quarter, Kyler Murray completed a pass to Carson Meier. Two plays later, Murray completed a long pass to CeeDee Lamb to make it first and goal.
On the next play, OU running back Trey Sermon ran into the end zone for the Sooners’ first score to bring the scoreboard to 28-7.
Following a slip up on special teams for Alabama, the Crimson Tide went three-and-out. It served as a mild turning point for the Sooners as OU started its drive on the 51 yard line.
Kyler Murray was able to complete several passes, and moved the chains with an 11 yard run, which was aided by a big block by receiver CeeDee Lamb.
On fourth down, the Sooners went for it and it paid off. Murray completed a pass downfield to CeeDee Lamb, which led to an Austin Seibert field goal.
The score then stood at 28-10.
The next series, Alabama appeared to just go to Josh Jacobs through the air and on the ground. The Tide was able to continue down the field after several passes to Jacobs, Najee Harris, Jaylen Waddle and Jerry Jeudy. Alabama completed a pass near the end zone, but it was called back for an illegal formation. Tagovailoa ran for nine yards on the next play, which brought the series to fourth down and one. A false start on the next play then led the Crimson Tide to settle for a 38-yard field goal. The score then became 31-10.
The Sooner offense appeared to find its rhythm on the next series with Murray completing a 7-yard pass to Carson Meier and another to Kennedy Brooks for a 9-yard gain. Murray then ran for two huge gains but the clock was not on the Sooners’ side. It ran out before OU could capitalize.
At halftime, Alabama led OU 31-10.
In the first half, Alabama was able to convert five out of seven third downs, while OU was unable to convert a single third-down. The Crimson Tide also recorded 318 total yards, compared to 191 for the Sooners.
Penalties plagued both teams at the start of the second half. In the first several plays, OU was called for a delay of game, false start and illegal block in the back, while Alabama was called for a horse collar tackle.
However, the penalties didn’t seem to slow down the Sooners that much. Kyler Murray took things into his own hands and was able to move the chains down the field.
When all receivers were covered, Kyler Murray kept the ball and ran for a first down. He then completed a pass to CeeDee Lamb for another first down. Kennedy Brooks ran for back-to-back gains for another first down. Murray completed a pass to Brooks, who was able to slip out of a tackle for another first down. Following a run by Trey Sermon and a couple of missed passes, Austin Seibert kicked a 26 yard field goal to bring the score to 31-13.
With that field goal, Seibert broke the NCAA record for most career points scored by a kicker. Seibert has 496 points, which is two more than the previous record.
On Alabama’s next series, a couple of Sooners left the game with injuries. Amani Bledsoe and Curtis Bolton were both injured on separate plays.
After Alabama punted, OU’s offense was able to move the ball down the field on several plays. As Kyler Murray looked like he was scrambling, he threw a 49-yard pass off his back foot which was caught by wide receiver Charleston Rambo in the end zone. Once Seibert hit the extra point, the score stood at 31-20 at the end of the third quarter.
Alabama kicked off the fourth quarter with several on-point passes to get down the field after going scoreless in the third quarter. Tua Tagovailoa was able to throw a pass to Devonta Smith through traffic for a touchdown, bringing the score to 38-20.
On OU’s first possession of the fourth quarter, Murray threw an incomplete pass but was hit hard by Alabama’s Quinnen Williams. Murray’s helmet came off during the hit, which means he was required to sit out one play. Murray came back into the game and threw a pass to Rambo for a first down. The next play, Murray ran for 23 yards.
Murray completed a couple of crucial passes to CeeDee Lamb for a pair of first downs. Murray then completed a 10 yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb, bringing the score to 38-27.
Following a failed onside kick, Alabama moved down the field and Tagovailoa was able to throw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. The score put the Crimson Tide ahead 45-27.
When the Sooners took control of the ball, Murray was able to complete a 35 yard pass to Nick Basquine. A few plays later, Murray was scrambling and was able to avoid a tackle in the backfield. However, the ruling on the field was that his knee touched, so the ball was ruled down. In a twist, Alabama’s Raekwon Davis was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct call for taking off his helmet, which gave the Sooners a first down.
Murray was then able to complete a pass to Rambo before running it into the end zone for a touchdown. The game ended with the final score set at 45-34 when Alabama took a knee after a series of running plays.
Alabama will now move on to play Clemson in the National Championship game.