Alabama beats Oklahoma at its own game, and looks angry doing it


Per the Westgate Superbook's Jeff Sherman, the College Football Playoff National Championship game line has opened at Alabama -6.5 vs. Clemson.

Even as Alabama dominated the first half of Saturday's College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma, Nick Saban didn't appear to be satisfied. The Tigers, led by Deshaun Watson, went on to defeat the Crimson Tide 35-31 in that game.

Alabama hung 21 points on Oklahoma in the first quarter alone.

That's not a strategy that works well.

Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams nearly cracked.

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Oklahoma did a decent job of chasing the score the rest of the night but the chasing was of more concern to bettors who had the spread (14 or 14.5) than to Alabama's chances of winning.

Alabama took possession of the ball with 7:30 remaining in the half and drove into the Oklahoma red zone during a long drive created to run down the clock and keep Murray off the field - but a slew of penalties kept the Crimson Tide out of the endzone.

That chasing was also done oddly.

The Sooners and coach Lincoln Riley went through a similar pre-CFP hectic time previous year, when Baker Mayfield won the Heisman.

The Irish hung around for a quarter, with the teams exchanging field goals. Austin Seibert cut the lead to 31-13 after Oklahoma had six yards to go on the Alabama 9.

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OU is on a record-setting pace, averaging 8.7 yards per offensive play in 2018 (the current record is 8.6 by Hawaii in 2006).

As spectacular a season as Murray has enjoyed as the OU starting quarterback this season, his only one as the Sooner QB, he would be the first to tell you that his success is as much the result of all the talented weapons he has at his disposal as anything he has done.

"I think it's going to be exciting", Tagovailoa said. He was the catalyst and the impetus for Oklahoma's offense on Saturday night like he had been all season for the Sooners. His top target, Marquise Brown is questionable for this game after he suffered a foot injury in the Big 12 title game, but there are still plenty of options available.

"I just wanted us to know that we were still in it, just reminded them of all the adversity that we've faced this year, all the tough games, all the times that we were down and people counted us out, and I just wanted to make sure that the entire team heard that message", Riley said. The Athletics selected Murray ninth overall in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft and paid him a $4.66 million signing bonus with the understanding he'd give up football after the 2018 college football season. Alabama committed nine penalties and didn't execute consistently on offense in the middle of the game.

That's the edge from a coach who is on the cusp of passing Bear Bryant with a seventh national championship but is always demanding more from a four- and five-star roster that rarely fails to live up to expectations. After all, we're talking about the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country in points per game.

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