By Edwin Stanton

Advantage: Oklahoma
The Sooners are almost unstoppable with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, who has 40 passing TDs and 11 running scores, leading the offense. The Crimson Tide is second in the nation behind OU in scoring offense with Tua Tagovailoa, with 37 passing TDs and five rushing scores, leading the charge. But watch out for Jalen Hurts, who could be a wild card for Alabama.

Advantage: Alabama
The Crimson Tide tops Oklahoma in just about every defensive category and it isn’t even close. Led by Isaiah Buggs (9.5 sacks) and Quinnen Williams (18 tackles for loss), the Crimson Tide has a wall up front that won’t be easy for the Sooners to penetrate.

Advantage: Even
Alabama has been inconsistent. The kicking and punting seems pedestrian. Still, Jaylen Waddle and Josh Jacobs are dangerous return men for Alabama. Oklahoma has a reliable kicker in Austin Seibert and that could come in handy if the game comes down to the wire.

Advantage: Alabama
In his second season at the helm, Lincoln Riley has proven to be a perfect fit for OU. It doesn’t hurt having coached back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners. But Nick Saban has a track record that dates back for years, especially in big games.

Advantage: Alabama
The College Football playoff has been around since 2014 and the Alabama has been a part of all five of them. The Crimson Tide has advanced to the title game three straight years and is looking to make it four. Alabama knows what to do in these situations and won’t be caught up in the hype.

Alabama 49, Oklahoma 41
The nation’s top two offenses will surely put on a big show, much to the delight of college football fans. But as they say, defense wins championships, and Alabama’s is clearly better than Oklahoma’s. Alabama has to minimize explosive plays from the Sooners and get off the field and let the Alabama offense take control.


Joey Chandler
Alabama 45, Oklahoma 28
Will both quarterbacks be back to 100 percent by kickoff with the recent reports of Heisman winner Kyler Murray feeling ill? How will Tua’s ankle hold up? What we do know is Alabama’s defense is raring to go and so is Jalen Hurts if the time comes.

Cecil Hurt
Alabama 45, Oklahoma 30
Oklahoma is known for the wind that comes sweeping down the plain and opposing offenses, and for not slowing down either one. The Sooners won’t get shut out, but won’t break Alabama’s serve enough to stay close.

Ben Jones
Alabama 44, Oklahoma 23
For Alabama to overtake Oklahoma in scoring this season, the Crimson Tide offense needs to score 21 more points than Oklahoma does. Both teams are going to score points, but Alabama won’t have to take risks to move the ball on the OU defense. If the Sooners make any mistakes on offense, they’ll be in trouble right away.

Sa’Riah Ponder
Alabama 45, Oklahoma 28
Oklahoma’s offense is explosive and the Crimson Tide’s defense is the No. 4 scoring defense in the nation. Alabama will have to make adjustments but they will be fired up.

Michael Southern
Alabama 49, Oklahoma 28
Kyler Murray may have a few big moments, but Oklahoma’s defense won’t be able to stop Alabama’s offense from pulling away.

Ben Stansell
Alabama 49, Oklahoma 28
Kyler Murray may have a few big moments, but Oklahoma’s defense won’t be able to stop Alabama’s offense from pulling away.

Terrin Waack
Alabama 48, Oklahoma 28
Both teams can score. They’re the top two scoring offenses in the nation. But only one team can stop another from scoring. Alabama is the No. 4 scoring defense. Oklahoma is the 96th. That’s too big of a difference to not matter.


By Edwin Stanton


Josh Jacobs
Position: Running back
Height: 5-10
Weight: 216
Class: Junior
Key stat: Averaged 10.4 yards per carry against Georgia in the SEC title game
Buzz: Jacobs has proven to be a valuable offensive weapon, leading the Crimson Tide running backs with 11 touchdowns this season, despite being the team’s third-leading rushing. Coming off an MVP performance in the SEC Championship Game, Jacobs, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, should be highly motivated to play the Sooners, a team that didn’t recruit Jacobs very hard until late in the recruiting process.

LaBryan Ray
Position: Defensive line
Height: 6-5
Weight: 294
Class: Sophomore
Key stat: Has 36 tackles this season
Buzz: Ray has seen an increase in playing time in the last half of the season and he’s taken advantage of it. He has five tackles for a loss this season with one in each of the last four games. Ray has been a solid backup to team sack leader Isaiah Buggs, and the Crimson Tide does not miss a beat with the sophomore stepping in to spell Buggs. He’ll be looking to continue his strong play against the Sooners.

Deionte Thompson
Position: Defensive back
Height: 6-2
Weight: 196
Class: Junior
Key stat: AP, Sporting News and AFCA consensus All-American
Buzz: Thompson has stepped up this season to be a leader in the Crimson Tide secondary. He’s second on the team in tackles with 71 and even has three tackles for a loss and two interceptions. For the Orange Bowl, he will need to step it up even more to defend against Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and an explosive Sooner offense that averages 324 passing yards a game and has 41 passing touchdowns.


Kyler Murray
Position: Quarterback
Height: 5-10
Weight: 195
Class: Junior
Key stat: Has thrown at least two touchdown passes in all but one game this year
Buzz: A Heisman Trophy winner is going to get all the attention in the postseason and everyone wants to see what Murray does against a top-notch defense like Alabama’s. Murray has accounted for 51 Sooner touchdowns and will try to find success against an Alabama secondary that has been susceptible at times this season.

Trey Sermon
Position: Running back
Height: 6-0
Weight: 224
Class: Sophomore
Key stat: Needs 72 rushing yards to reach 1,000 this season
Buzz: With all the attention on Kyler Murray and the air attack, everyone forgets about the Sooners’ outstanding run game. It starts with Sermon, who ranks sixth in the Big 12 at 71.4 rushing yards per game. The bruising back could give Alabama fits once he gets past the line and he’s also a threat as a receiver.

Cody Ford
Position: Offensive line
Height: 6-4
Weight: 338
Class: Junior
Key stat: First-team All-Big 12, third-team AP All-American
Buzz: Ford is the leader of a Sooner offensive line that’s among the best in the country. He and the line won the Joe Moore Award, given to the best offensive line in college football. Whether he matches up with UA defensive linemen Quinnen Williams, Isaiah Buggs or Raekwon Davis, Ford should be up to the task.