The appetizers are over, so bring on The Titans: Alabama-Clemson IV

Doug Segrest
Special to the Advertiser

The rout was on, then the rout had run its course.

Oklahoma had been there before. A year ago, in Pasadena, California, the favored Sooners dominated for a half only to see another SEC team rally to force overtime, then dash national title dreams.

Saturday’s Orange Bowl would not be a sequel with a twist. It would merely lead to one we’re all familiar with.

Top-ranked Alabama proved it was the superior team at the onset, then provided the exclamation point only after Oklahoma chased down a 28-0 deficit

This was about an Alabama offense that was Oklahoma’s equal, led by a quarterback who woulda, shoulda, coulda won the Heisman Trophy that went to Sooner Kyler Murray.

Behind an apparently healthy Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama started in blitzkrieg fashion, scoring on its first five possessions. Then, as Murray and Oklahoma got their footing on a humid Miami night, the Crimson Tide went old school and back to the ground.

The numbers on the scoreboard didn’t matter. Only the clock did.

And the Alabama offense complied in a 45-34 victory.

Now we get what we anticipated in August and expected since October: Alabama vs. Clemson IV.

More:Alabama haters beware: The best may be yet to come for Crimson Tide

More:Alabama starts strong but Sooners make inroads on Tide D after halftime

Critics say Nick Saban has sucked the life out of football with his dynastic run, but what about Dabo Swinney? For the past four years, Alabama and Clemson have separated from a 130-team pack.

The only suspense wasn’t if they’d meet, but who would be sacrificed in the semifinals.

Sorry, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. While Alabama’s average margin of victory over the course of the regular season was 33 points, Clemson buried rivals by an average of 37 points in the eight games since a close call against Syracuse.

This is the one college football deserves. The Battle of the Titans, yet again.

Bring it on Jan. 7.

A Montgomery native, Doug Segrest covered college football for 28 years while writing for the Alabama Journal, Decatur Daily, Nashville Banner and Birmingham News.