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Alabama defense takes Oklahoma shootout talk personally

Pair the nation’s top two scoring offenses and of course there will be talk of a track meet.

Oklahoma scores 49.5 points a game followed by Alabama’s 47.9. And while the Sooners surrender 32.4 points a game (96th most nationally), the Crimson Tide has more of a defensive reputation entering the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl.

So, this offensive explosion talk isn’t so welcome to Alabama players on that side of the ball.

“As a defense, we take it personal because that’s not something we let people talk,” Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson said. “Like, it’s going to be a shootout. Nah, like we have a good defense. So, it’s something that our defense is definitely taking personal but we’re just going to continue to work until it’s time to go play ball.”

Oklahoma (12-1) has put up some crazy numbers. Its 49.5-point scoring average is the best any team has had to finish a season since Baylor scored 52.4 a game in 2013.

The Sooners have scored more than 50 points on seven occasions. Twice it blew past 60.

The Tide defense hasn’t allowed 50 points since 2003 and that came in a 5-overtime loss to Tennessee, 51-43. It has never allowed 60.

Ole Miss in 2016 was the last team to score more than 40 in a 48-43 Tide win.

Wilson said this Alabama defense may have started relatively slowly this season as it replaced so many NFL draft picks but has noticed weekly progress.

Allowing a season-high 454 yards and 28 points to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game was somewhat of a regression.

“Playing a great team, you can’t afford to make as many mental errors as you did in the past,” Wilson said. “I feel like when you get out-flanked, they’re going to hit you where it hurts, basically. I mean, we just have to make sure we communicate better and make sure everybody is on the same page because what Coach Saban always tells us, we can’t make those little mental errors and stuff like that against a good team. They’re going to hit us where it hurts.”

That leads to big plays — another area these two teams do better than anyone in the country. Oklahoma has 105 plays that gained 20-plus yards while Alabama’s hit 93 of them.

The difference is on defense where the Sooners have allowed 70 to rank 109th compared to the 54 given up by the Tide to rank 49th.

Michael Casagrande is an Alabama beat writer for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.

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