For those expecting a high scoring, close run affair, the first quarter 21 point lead by the Crimson Tide was as much a shock to Alabama fans as it was to Lincoln Reilly.
Quarter one was near perfect for Alabama. A healthy Tua Tagovailoa was back to his laser focused best and the Bama running game was operating with brutal efficiency.
In fact such was Josh Jacobs contribution to Alabama’s eventual winning scoreline that future NFL stars Damien and Najee Harris were reduced to bit part actors.
Who is Josh Jacobs?
The Jacobs story is a good one. Brought up in a rough neighbourhood in Tulsa Oklahoma, there isn’t much Jacobs hasn’t seen in his young life. But just 12 months ago Jacobs didn’t have one scholarship offer and wasn’t even on Alabama’s radar. But by early January ‘18 Jacobs had received offers from Bama and Mizzou, finally settling on life at Tuscaloosa. Jacobs joined the Tide as a 3 star recruit, unusual in itself at Alabama.
But Jacobs has motivation and drive and the Orange Bowl showed how crucial a player he will become for Alabama. 15 carries (more than any other Bama back) for 98 yards in a game of this magnitude was an impressive return.
Game over? Not so fast.
Even the most ardent of Sooners thought the game was dead at half time.
At the start of the second half Bama came out the gates flying.
But then something changed. In what was already a game full of niggle and chirping, the Sooners were hurting at the score line. Oklahoma were lashing out and Bama didn’t lie down – a clash of immovable objects. The game became messy and ill disciplined. As a result, particularly so for Alabama defensive penalties became costly and more importantly at crucial times. In the third quarter the Sooners scored 10 points unanswered to get within 10 of Bama. You could see Saban becoming more and more animated. He knew how potent the Sooners can be.
Kyler Murray – footballer or baseballer?
This game showed just how important Kyler Murray is to the success of Oklahoma football.
Murray ran for 109 yards over the 60 minutes, averaging 6.4 yards per carry, scoring one touchdown in the process. He also threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns. But the stats belie the ease at which Murray danced his way through arguably the best defence in College ball.
NFL scouts have been watching Murray carefully this season and the defeat will have done little if any harm to his cause. Murray and his representatives have some soul searching to do over the next few weeks.
The Tide Rolls on
After the 3rd quarter and early 4th quarter scare, the Alabama defence led by the excellent Quinnen Williams recomposed itself and took back control of the game. When Jerry Jeudy scored to make the score 45-27 the game was effectively over. A late Murray score was scant consolation for an excellent second half effort for the Sooners. Oklahoma had put up a fight and Alabama knew it.
Nick Saban now has the opportunity to play for his seventh National Championship. However the Clemson Tigers will provide the sternest test for the Tide thus far. Compelling viewing on 7th January folks. Be sure not to miss it.
Photo credit : Sporting News