MIAMI, FL (WBRC) - Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Alabama is headed back to the College Football Playoff national championship game.
The Crimson Tide, known for making statements on the field, started fast and held on late to defeat Oklahoma 45-34 on Saturday.
The win matches No. 1 Alabama with No. 2 Clemson in the CFP title game on January 7. This will be the fourth consecutive year Alabama and Clemson have played in the CFP, including the third time they’ve played in the championship game.
Saturday’s semifinal was a matchup of two of the nation’s top offenses, and each showed it. The game featured 999 total yards (528 for Alabama, 471 for Clemson) and zero turnovers.
All eyes were on quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray. While it was Oklahoma’s Murray that edged out Tagovailoa for the Heisman Trophy earlier this month, it was the Alabama quarterback that played nearly flawless Saturday.
Tagovailoa earned the game’s offensive MVP honors after torching Oklahoma’s defense for 318 yards and four touchdowns on 24 of 27 passing.
The first-year starting QB started red hot, as did the Tide. Alabama marched straight down the field in six plays to open the game with a touchdown then scored on its next three drives to take a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Tagovailoa continued spreading to the ball around the field to his arsenal of receivers, with DeVonta Smith leading the way with 6 receptions for 104 yards and a score. Tagovailoa also connected with Jerry Jeudy, Josh Jacobs and Henry Ruggs III for scores.
On the ground, Josh Jacobs led the charge with 98 yards, but Damien Harris scored the Crimson Tide’s two rushing touchdowns.
Oklahoma’s slow start was too much to overcome, but it wasn’t without effort.
Despite trailing 31-10 at halftime, Oklahoma slowly marched back to trail only 31-20 entering the fourth quarter.
Murray continued giving the comeback his best effort, throwing a touchdown pass and rushing for another score in the fourth quarter. However, Tagovailoa matched Oklahoma’s two scores with two TD passes, holding the 11-point lead until the final whistle.
Murray threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns on 19 of 37 passing. He added a team-high 109 yards on the ground and another score.
Alabama 7, Oklahoma 0 - Harris run, 1 yard (11:54 left)
UA 14, OU 0 - Tagovailoa pass to Ruggs, 10 yards (5:54 left)
UA 21, OU 0 - Harris run, 1 yard (1:33 left)
UA 28, OU 0 - Tagovailoa pass to Jacobs, 27 yards (13:01 left)
UA 28, OU 7 - Sermon run, 2 yards (11:48 left)
UA 28, OU 10 - Seibert 28-yard field goal (7:30 left)
UA 31, OU 10 - Bulovas 38-yard field goal (0:25 left)
UA 31, OU 13 - Seibert 26-yard field goal (9:42 left)
UA 31, OU 20 - Murry pass to Rambo, 49 yards (3:03 left)
UA 38, OU 20 - Tagovailoa pass to Smith, 10 yards (13:08 left)
UA 38, OU 27 - Murray pass to Lamb, 10 yards (8:31 left)
UA 45, OU 27 - Tagovailoa pass to Jeudy, 13 yards (6:08 left)
UA 45, OU 34 - Murray run, 8 yards (4:23 left)