Alabama was the easy pick. Oklahoma was the difficult choice.
They’re on equal footing now.
Top-seeded Alabama (13-0) will continue its quest for a second consecutive national championship in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, when the Crimson Tide will take on the fourth-seeded Sooners (12-1) — who got to the College Football Playoff semifinals on the strength of their Big 12 championship win over Texas.
Ohio State, Georgia and even UCF all felt like they deserved a spot, but the selection committee felt Oklahoma’s resume was the best off that long list of contenders for the fourth and final entry into the playoff.
“The one-loss conference champion carried the day,” CFP selection chairman Rob Mullens said on the televised announcement of the pairings.
Alabama has won 15 consecutive games, starting with its two wins in last season’s playoff and most recently a rally past Georgia for the Southeastern Conference title on Saturday. Oklahoma’s only defeat this season was to Texas, a 48-45 game on a neutral field in Dallas on Oct. 6 — and the Sooners won the rematch in Saturday’s Big 12 title game, 39-27.
The Tide knew they were going to the playoffs.
The Sooners had to wait and sweat out the official word.
“Sooner Nation, we just got some great news,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in a video posted to Twitter shortly after the announcement was made.
It’s a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in the nation this season. Oklahoma, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Kyler Murray, averages 49.5 points per game. Alabama averages 47.9 points per game.
And while the Sooners know who their quarterback is, the Crimson Tide have some questions at that position.
Jalen Hurts led Alabama’s rally over Georgia on Saturday, taking over when Crimson Tide starter Tua Tagovailoa left with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. Hurts threw for a touchdown and ran in for the winning TD with about a minute left, as Alabama knocked off Georgia 35-28 — a win that probably knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoff.
Alabama-Oklahoma got slotted for the Orange Bowl instead of the Cotton Bowl in large part because of how close the Sooners’ home is to Dallas. It would have largely been a home game for Oklahoma had this matchup been in the Cotton Bowl.
Alabama is going to the Orange Bowl for the ninth time. This will be Oklahoma’s 20th trip to the Orange Bowl, extending the Sooners’ record for most appearances in the game.
Source: The Associated Press