It’s The Heisman In Miami

College Football Playoff Semifinal

The Orange Bowl

(4) Oklahoma Sooners at (1) Alabama Crimson Tide

Oklahoma: It really feels like Deja vu all over again for them. For the second straight year, they’ve won a share of the Big-12, won the Big-12 championship, another Oklahoma Sooners quarterback wins the Heisman trophy and here they are once again, back in the playoffs but this time, they are the four seed while last season, they were the two seed. It’s time to give Lincoln Riley his respect and credit because in his first two years, he’s taken a team to the playoffs along with replacing a well-known coach in Bob Stoops. He’s taken an already good team, added some tweaks here and there and look at them, one of the best teams in the country. When you talk about Oklahoma Sooners football, of course the offense will come up first to begin the conversations because they can score against anybody in the nation. You know those offenses that are often referred to as “video game offenses”? That’s what they have. I can automatically pencil them in to score at least 35 points each game. The only thing that’s holding them back from being taken more seriously has been their defense and they couldn’t stop a growth spurt which is why there is much more added pressure on the offense to sustain such long drives. This may sound strange when you read it, but their offense is their defense and what I mean by that is they must remain on the field to win the possession battles along with controlling the line of scrimmage considering their defense can’t do it. Here they are, back in the playoffs again and they will face the defending champions to kick this all off.

Alabama: They really showed their grit and mental toughness in the SEC Championship game on December 1st. First, Georgia gave them all they could handle, and this looked like the one game where the Crimson Tide met their match. Then, Tua Tagovailoa who had been hampered with a leg injury was forced to miss the rest of the game. How ironic is it that Jalen Hurts, the kid that was once the starting quarterback for Alabama struggles in the national title game back in January against these same Georgia Bulldogs for Tua who gets them back into the game and leads them to another championship, their fifth in nine seasons. 11 months later, Tua gets injured and guess who comes to the rescue? Jalen Hurts against the Georgia Bulldogs again in Atlanta! You couldn’t make this story up if you tried. I can truly say that if Tua had continued to play in that game, they would’ve lost that game and who knows if they’re even in this position right now as the top seed in the playoffs. Prior to that conference title game, Alabama had won each game during the regular season by 22 points or more this season. To see them get challenged I think was a wake-up call for them because that was the first time, they got a true challenge all year long. You almost expect them to be here each year. This is the fifth consecutive time that they are here in the playoffs. To advance to their third consecutive trip to the national championship, they will have to take down a fellow conference champion in the Oklahoma Sooners.

Oklahoma Player To Watch: Trey Sermon– I already envision how Alabama’s defense will come out to play. All the attention will be on Kyler and they will be ready to defend the pass. To confuse them, I see the Sooners offense using Trey early and often. He’s a patient runner and allows the lane to open, then he accelerates. He’s also another weapon in Oklahoma’s passing attack. If he can get a one on one look with a linebacker in the flat, look for Kyler to take that mismatch and use it to his advantage.

Alabama Player To Watch: Quinnen Williams– He’s a projected top ten pick in the NFL draft this Spring if he decides to declare. Alabama has a history of defensive linemen that come off as extremely imposing. He doesn’t necessarily fit that mold, but he’s a highly productive player on the inside of the defensive line. He has extremely aggressive hands to shed blockers, he stops the run and he has a fantastic first step which allows him to get off the line and make a play.

Final Analysis: This is the perfect setup. The two best quarterbacks in the nation who just so happened to finish first and second in the Heisman voting. This is Alabama’s first time playing in the Orange Bowl since 1999 when they lost to the Michigan Wolverines. This will be the toughest defense that the Sooners will see all year and from a defensive standpoint, Alabama hasn’t seen an offense with the firepower like the Oklahoma Sooners display. As much as the Sooners may struggle on defense, they always find a way to make a big stop when it matters. It’s key for Oklahoma to at least create some type of pressure on Tua. How healthy will he be? To test him, I’m making him move around early on, that’s just the mentality of a defensive player when you know a key player. Oklahoma will do enough offensively to remain in the game. If I’m Alabama, I’m confusing Kyler. I’m disguising my looks up front, I’m rushing five, throwing him off his rhythm and making him get rid of the football sooner.

Prediction: Alabama 45 Oklahoma 28