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The Road Warrior Report - Orange Bowl CFP Semifinal Review - December 30, 2018

The Road Warrior Report - Orange Bowl CFP Semifinal Review - December 30, 2018

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The pundits said we didn’t have a chance, not with our dumpster fire of a defense. In the end, they were right, as it took the Sooner offense a quarter to get going against Alabama’s defense, and by that time the Tide were up 28-0. The Sooners outscored the Tide 34-17 from there, but it was too little, too late, as Bama prevailed 45-34 and advanced to the CFP National Championship Game for the fourth year in a row.

Murray was stellar after a bad start, going 19-37 for 308 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries to lead the Sooner ground game. Kennedy Brooks had 35 yards on six carries, while Trey Sermon had nine carries for 19 yards.

CeeDee Lamb had a great night, leading all Sooner receivers with eight catches for 109 yards and a score. Charleston Rambo had three catches for 74 yards and a TD, while Carson Meier added three for 51 yards. Brooks had three catches for 21 yards. Nick Basquine had one for 35, and Grant Calcaterra had one for 18.

The Sooners won the toss and deferred. Alabama hit a 50-yard pass play on the first play of the night and the blitzkrieg was on. It appeared that the Sooners had stopped the Tide inside the Sooner one-yard line on a fumble recovery, but the call was overturned on review and Bama scored with 11:54 to play in the first quarter to make it 7-0.

Murray was sacked twice on the Sooners’ first possession, and they went three and out. Austin Seibert’s punt was downed at the Bama 45. Eight plays later, it was 14-0 on a very questionable catch in the end zone where the Alabama receiver appeared to be juggling the ball as he went out of bounds. The call stood on review, however, and the Sooners were in deep trouble.

The Sooners picked up one first down on their next possession, which was marred by an awful call that an incomplete Murray pass was a lateral returned for an Alabama TD. The play was overturned on review, but the Sooners still had to punt. Bama took over on their own 39. Five plays later, it was 21-0, and things were getting away from the Sooners.

OU was able to move out to the Alabama 49 on their next possession, but failed on a fourth and four from the OU 48 and turned the ball over on downs with five seconds to go in the first quarter. Five plays later, after Tulsa native Josh Jacobs scored on a 27-yard swing pass during which he trucked Robert Barnes and knocked him out of the game, it was 28-0.

The Sooners finally showed signs of offensive life on the ensuing possession. Murray hit Meier for 39 yards to the Bama 36, then hit Lamb two plays later for 32 yards to the Bama two. Sermon took it in on the next play to make it 28-7 with 11:48 to play in the second quarter. Bama went three and out on the ensuing possession, and OU took over on the 50 after a short punt.

After an incomplete pass to Hollywood Brown, Murray ran for 11 yards, then Sermon carried for seven and one. An incomplete pass left the Sooners facing fourth and two from the Bama 31, which they converted when Murray hit Lamb for 17 yards. The drive stalled at the Bama nine, however, and the Sooners settled for a Seibert field goal that made it 28-10 with 7:30 to play in the first half.

Alabama ran 7:05 off the clock on a 12-play, 55-yard drive for a field goal, punctuated by Nick Saban destroying a headset after consecutive penalties on the Tide negated a TD pass and forced a field goal instead of a short fourth down try. The Sooners moved to the Alabama 24 in the last 25 seconds of the half on a Murray scramble, but the clock ran out with the Sooners trailing 31-10.

OU came out of the locker room looking more like themselves on offense. After an inexcusable delay of game penalty on the first play was negated by a Bama personal foul, Murray hit Meier for five, but the Sooners took a block in the back penalty that pushed them back. Murray then ran for seven. Two plays later, after another Sooner penalty, Murray picked up 14 on a third and 13 scramble. He then hit Lamb for 11 yards and Brooks ran for eight on consecutive plays to give the Sooners a first down at the Bama 27. Three plays later, Brooks converted a third and seven with an 11-yard gain on third and seven. The Sooners had a first down at the Bama 13. The drive stalled at the nine, however, and another Seibert field goal made it 31-13 with 9:42 to play in the third quarter.

Bama picked up two first downs on the ensuing possession, but a long completion on third and 10 was overturned on review, and Bama had to punt. A short punt gave the Sooners the ball on their own 25.

Then, OU started to make things interesting. Murray ran for nine, then Brooks toted for five. After an incomplete pass, consecutive completions to Lamb of seven and five yards gave the Sooners a first down at the Bama 49. On the next play, Murray stepped up in the pocket and hit Charleston Rambo behind the defense for a TD that made it 31-20 with 3:03 to play in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the OU defense couldn’t hold up, not that such a thing was a surprise. Bama drove 87 yards in nine plays to make it 38-20 with 13:08 to play in the game. The Sooners answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive featuring a conversion on fourth and five from the Sooner 25. The drive was capped by a 10-yard TD pass to Lamb with 8:31 to play in the game.

An unsuccessful onside kick gave Bama a short field, and they scored in five plays to make it 45-27 with 6:08 to play in the game. The Sooners quickly answered with a six -play, 74-yard TD drive to make it 45-34 with 4:23 to play. Another unsuccessful onside kick, and Bama ran out the clock kneeling inside the Sooner 10.

The takeaway – Alabama was a better team. No shame in losing to them. I was proud of the way the team fought and didn’t lay down after falling so far behind. But we will never win one of these games until our defense at least can put up a fight. That’s coming. The future is bright. Boomer.

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