Tago­v­ailoa out­du­els Heis­man win­ner Mur­ray as Alabama clinches fourth con­sec­u­tive trip

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - College Football -

MI­AMI GAR­DENS, Fla. — Tua Tago­v­ailoa threw for 318 yards and four touch­downs and No. 1ranked Alabama beat No. 4 Ok­la­homa 45-34 on Satur­day night in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal at the Orange Bowl.

The high-scor­ing Soon­ers reached the semi­fi­nal de­spite a por­ous de­fense that was no match for Alabama’s di­verse at­tack, and the Crim­son Tide led 28-0 after only 17 min­utes.

Alabama (14-0) ad­vanced to the na­tional cham­pi­onship game for the fourth con­sec­u­tive sea­son and will play Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia against fa­mil­iar foe Clemson, which beat Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cot­ton Bowl. Clemson, ranked No. 2, and Alabama will face off in the play­offs for the fourth year in a row, and have split two ti­tle games.

“They’ve got a great pro­gram and a great team,” Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said. “I’m sure it’ll be a great chal­lenge for us.”

Tago­v­ailoa’s per­for­mance in the semi­fi­nal ar­gued for a Florida re­count in the Heis­man Tro­phy vote. He fin­ished as the run­ner-up to Ok­la­homa’s Kyler Mur­ray but won sweet con­so­la­tion by com­plet­ing 24 of 27 passes, with scores to four re­ceivers.

“It’s al­ways good to see your hard work pay off,” said Tago­v­ailoa, who played on a sore left an­kle.

While Tago­v­ailoa con­nected on his first nine passes for 184 yards, Mur­ray was sacked twice be­fore he threw a pass, and his first com­ple­tion came with his team al­ready down 21-0.

Mur­ray had one bril­liant mo­ment, a per­fect deep throw on the move to Charleston Rambo in the end zone for a 49-yard score. He passed for 308 yards and ran for 109 but took sev­eral jar­ring hits, in­clud­ing when All-Amer­ica nose guard Quin­nen Wil­liams dis­lodged his hel­met and forced him from the game for one play in the fourth quar­ter.

The Soon­ers (12-2) were bowled over by the Crim­son Tide. When Robert Barnes tried to stop Josh Ja­cobs in the open field, the Alabama run­ning back low­ered his head for the col­li­sion and con­tin­ued to the end zone for a 27-yard score while the Soon­ers safety spun to the turf, dazed and briefly un­able to get up.

“Our of­fense re­ally con­trolled the tempo of the game,” Sa­ban said. “The only time we re­ally got stopped in the game is when we stopped our­selves.”

In a matchup be­tween the two high­est-scor­ing of­fenses in the coun­try, Ok­la­homa fell too far be­hind early.

On the first snap, DeVonta Smith turned Tago­v­ailoa’s short pass into a 50-yard gain. The Crim­son Tide went on to score an Orange Bowl-record 21 points in the open­ing quar­ter.

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