Happy Friday, everyone. Only one more day until Alabama finally gets to take the field in Miami Gardens against Heisman winner Kyler Murray and the Oklahoma Sooners. Your previews:
Why to watch: Tua Tagovailoa vs. Kyler Murray. Defensive genius Nick Saban and offensive whiz Lincoln Riley matching wits. This is going to be a highly entertaining game that will shape the entire Playoff. We know Oklahoma is capable of scoring 40 on anybody, but can they stop the Crimson Tide enough times in the process? We all remember the Sooners’ 45-31 victory in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Alabama remembers that, too.
SN pick: Alabama wins 44-34 but FAILS TO COVER the spread.
This is going to be a wild and crazy offensive show with both teams trading big shots in the first half. But it’s a long game, and as it drags on, Alabama’s defense will adjust just enough, and the running game will do enough, to take over.
The Sooners and Kyler Murray will eventually get stopped for a drive or two. The Alabama offense, though, will just keep on going. Eventually, the Tide offensive line and deep backfield will rumble and pull away on the way to yet another national championship appearance.
But the Tide will have to work for it, first.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Alabama 50, Oklahoma 34
Line: Alabama -14, o/u: 77
There might be only so much Heisman winner Murray can do to keep the Sooners in this for the entire game. Even if Murray plays well, the Sooners probably won’t have enough on defense to slow down the Tide — and that’s even if Tua isn’t 100 percent.
Alabama 42, Oklahoma 28
Kratch’s pick: It comes down to this: Oklahoma should score 30 points against Alabama. The Sooners’ offense is just that good. But they probably need to score 50 points to win the game, and we just don’t see it happening. Oklahoma’s defense will make enough happen to keep it closish, but the Crimson Tide marches on with relative ease. PICK: Alabama.
Nick Bromberg: Alabama 61, Oklahoma 51
Sam Cooper: Alabama 52, Oklahoma 41
Pat Forde: Alabama 60, Oklahoma 35
This feels more like Leinart’s other national title shot, in the Rose Bowl the year after his throttling of Oklahoma, when he shared the backfield with fellow Heisman winner Reggie Bush, but they were defeated by the QB who finished second to Bush in New York, Texas Longhorn Vince Young, in perhaps the greatest college football game ever played.
Peyton Manning vs. Danny Wuerffel in 1996. George Rogers vs. Herschel Walker in ‘80. Johnny Rodgers vs. Greg Pruett ‘71. Gary Beban vs. O.J. Simpson ‘67. Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis vs. Johnny Lujack in 1946. Some of those matchups were bigger in their time than they are in the rearview mirror. Others have grown more prestigious with the benefit of historical perspective.
However, few if any have arrived with as much potential for fun as Tua vs. Kyler.
Part of college football’s beauty lies in its fickle nature, a sport where chaos reigns and fans have been conditioned to expect the unexpected. To hear some tell it, Nick Saban and his band of soulless warriors have sucked all of the fun out. Sure, there may be chaos all around him, but somehow his machine just keeps humming along, overcoming adversity any time it presents itself, to the point that an heir of inevitability has taken hold. The Tide rolls into its fifth College Football Playoff appearance in as many chances as the odds on favorite to become the first 15-0 Division I football team in history while claiming its sixth national title in the last decade. As you can see above, the Oklahoma game is seen, at least outside the Alabama locker room, as a foregone conclusion.
And that’s the scary part.
It’s the only scary part, really. Analyzing this game objectively, it’s tough to find much of a chance at all for the Sooners unless that chaos steps in, and we know that nobody snuffs it out like Saban. Barring a whole lot of it, this couldn’t be easier to handicap. The two best offenses in the country will face off, one playing against an elite defense and the other playing against a defense better suited for the MAC than the playoffs. Both offenses will move the ball and score, but Alabama will get more stops.
It’s that simple.
Call it Alabama 54, Oklahoma 34. Of course, that is just my opinion. Vote and give us yours in the comments.
What will be the result of the Orange Bowl?
This poll is closed
Bummer, Sooners. Tide covers 14.
Sooners come up short but cover, Tide by 1-13.
Oklahoma pulls the upset (FLAGGED!)
In media day news, Quinnen Williams almost got caught giving his real opinion of Kyler Murray.
Here we go Asked @AlabamaFTBL stud DT @QuinnenD1 about @TheKylerMurray and Quinnen almost spoke his mind about the @HeismanTrophy winner: "I feel like Kyler Murray is not... nah, I'm good." #Sooners #CrimsonTide #OrangeBowl pic.twitter.com/Cr03Zu2RP8— Jeff Kolb (@JeffKolbTV) December 27, 2018
Hilarious. Sounds like the Alabama front likes what they see on film, and a couple of folks you may remember liked Quinnen’s execution.
Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown says he’s going to play, but there are rumblings that he’s nowhere near full speed.
“God willing, I’ll be as close to a hundred percent as I can,” he said at Orange Bowl media day. “That’s the whole game plan right now.”
During another portion of Brown’s 45-minute appearance, he said: “If I’m breathing, I’m playing.”
Asked if he knew whether Brown would be available Saturday night against Alabama, OU coach Lincoln Riley said: “Well, we’ll see. We’ll see. Those things are what they are. He’s battling, so we’ll see where he’s at Saturday.”
It sounds like Brown is very iffy, and will likely be missing some explosiveness if he does go. The Tide will be without the services of OLB Terrell Lewis, but he provided some good news by pledging to return in 2019.
In Tuscaloosa it’s death, taxes, and staff turnover.
“I’ve had no communication, especially with Oklahoma,” Golding said at Alabama’s Media Day. “You hire people, agents and things like that that take care of your business that allow you to do your job. Right now, I work for the University of Alabama, and I’m trying to do the best job I can to get our kids prepared for Saturday. So, my focus is at Alabama and nothing else.”
That sounds like the kind of thing people say before taking a new job, doesn’t it? Should Golding jump, longtime NFL LB coach Lou Spanos, most recently of the Tennessee Titans and currently on staff as a defensive analyst, would be a candidate to replace him.
Saban still thinks the playoffs are ruining the other bowls, and that stinks.
Saban argued that if the playoff were to expand, then more players would skip bowl games to prepare for their NFL futures and fewer fans would attend the games.
The importance of the non-playoff bowl games, Saban said, would continue to “sort of disintegrate.”
”Which I’m not sure is good for college football,” Saban said. “I’m not really for going eight teams in a playoff. It’s a hypothetical question, that I have enough issues and problems to solve without thinking about something that may or may not happen.”
On Thursday, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said he didn’t see “any momentum for change” in terms of expanding the playoff to eight teams.
The latest draft eligible player to skip a bowl is Deandre Baker of Georgia. This may not be completely terrible, though. With the new redshirt rule, bowls may become a place for the youngsters to get their feet wet. Still, the value of these exhibition games, that once were seen as a reward, is dropping.
Jalen Hurts is still mum on his future, and would appreciate it if people would stop assuming he intends to transfer.
Q: Have you submitted any paperwork to potentially put your name out there in that transfer model, or are you going to wait until after the season?
A: I’ve spoken about that already in the fall. I’ve never said anything about transferring. Those words have never came out of my mouth. Those have always been kind of assumptions, and if I haven’t spoken about it, then I don’t think it’s a conversation to be had.
Agreed, Jalen. Agreed.
Eyabi Anoma caught up with Saban to ask him about his shoes.
Maybe one day he will make enough to afford some new ones.
Great stuff here from a NFL Draft analyst on the technician that is Jonah Williams.
Alabama’s @JonahGWilliams understands how to get the most out of his arm length which is why I think he stays at tackle in the pros. Here is an example of his technique and understanding pic.twitter.com/f4dAnlkTUR— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) December 27, 2018
The Arizona Cardinals are projected to have the top pick in the draft, and their offensive line is a dumpster fire. Jonah has been mocked in a few places as the third player in Alabama history to go #1 overall, joining Harry Gilmer (NFL, 1948) and Joe Namath (AFL, 1965). Ohio State DE Nick Bosa is the main competition since QB Justin Herbert announced that he is returning to Oregon for his senior season, but the Cards are far better off in the pass rush department than on offense, and desperately need someone to protect QB Josh Rosen.
Isaiah Buggs undoubtedly made a little fan’s day with this tweet.
In NFL news, Eddie Jackson is a baller, folks.
Eddie Jackson is the highest graded safety in the NFL so far this season. pic.twitter.com/mQTXisjqjL— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 27, 2018
Last, from the “those who can’t do can teach” department...
Mayfield’s even become the late-season betting favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors — despite the fact that New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has 1,886 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns.
All of that is remarkable considering Mayfield began his season looking like a standard Browns rookie quarterback. He debuted with a thrilling come-from-behind win, but after six games Mayfieldhad eight touchdowns, six interceptions, a 78.9 passer rating, and a 1-4 record as a starter.
Normal Browns stats, right? The Browns’ No. 1 overall pick in 1999, Tim Couch, finished his rookie year with a 2-12 record, 15 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 73.2 rating. Mayfield was headed for similar marks.
So what changed? Freddie Kitchens took over and Mayfield kicked it into freaking hyperdrive.
At Alabama, Freddie averaged an interception for every 13 times he threw the ball. Since then he got fat and became a NFL QB whisperer. Life can be a funny thing.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.