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Orange Bowl recap: Alabama Crimson Tide vs Oklahoma Sooners

The “Roll Tide” chants began before 10 minutes of football had even been played at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.

The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide had just scored their second touchdown against No. 4 Oklahoma in their College Football Playoff semifinal against No. 4 Oklahoma — a contested 10-yard pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Henry Ruggs.

It looked like the beginning of a rout.

And while Oklahoma may not have gone down quietly, the game was essentially already decided..

Tagovailoa threw four touchdown passes, the Alabama defense contained Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray enough early to take a commanding lead and the Crimson Tide is once again heading to the national championship game after defeating Oklahoma 45-34 in the Orange Bowl. Alabama will face No. 2 Clemson, which throttled No. 3 Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl earlier in the day. It will be the third matchup in five years between Alabama and Clemson for the national championship.

“It was no surprise to me that they would come back in the game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I kept telling our players on the sidelines, we have to keep playing, we have to keep grinding. We’ve got to play for 60 minutes. This team is very capable.”

The Crimson Tide did just that.

Alabama’s domination began from the very first play. Tagovailoa dropped back and fired a pass up the middle to receiver DeVonta Smith, who shook past an Oklahoma defender and went downfield for a 50-yard gain. Six plays — and an overturned fumble — later, Damien Harris punched in Alabama’s first touchdown of the night from 1 yard out.

Alabama (14-0) led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter (an Orange Bowl record for most points by one team in the opening period), added another touchdown before Oklahoma could even get on the board and had a 31-10 edge at halftime before Oklahoma made it interesting.

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A 14-play, 66-yard drive to open the second half ended with a 26-yard field goal by Austin Seibert to cut the Sonners’ deficit to 31-13. An Alabama punt on the ensuing drive led to a six-play, 75-yard Oklahoma touchdown drive, with Murray hitting Charleston Rambo in stride in the end zone for the 49-yard score.

A 28-point lead had dwindled to 11.

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