2018 Orange Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
Will anyone stop Alabama?
The second College Football Playoff semifinal for the year is the 2018 Orange Bowl.
This is where you will find the team to beat, the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide. A word that has been used to describe them at various junctures during the season is “invincible.” Is that an apt descriptor? Depends on if they beat the Oklahoma Sooners, the Big 12 champions and number four seed.
No doubt, Oklahoma has a lot to celebrate this season: they made the College Football Playoff, they won the Big 12, and Kyler Murray won the Heisman. The latter of those, by the way, was against Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama. Do Tua and the Tide get the last laugh or do the Sooners do the improbable?
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2018 Orange Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Saturday, December 29, 2018, 8:00pm ET (5:00pm PT)|
|Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida|
|2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal #2|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|Payout derived from CFP Revenue Pool (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Alabama is a 14-point favorite|
2018 Orange Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide
|13-0 (8-0 SEC); 2018 SEC Champions|
|Best Win: It’s quite the list|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 2nd, Total Offense 7th, Rushing Offense 34th, 3rd Downs 2nd, Time of Possession 70th, Turnover Margin 20th, Sacks Allowed 10th, Red Zone 70th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 4th, Total Defense 10th, Rushing Defense 18th, Opponent 3rd Downs 8th, Sacks Per Game 6th, TFL Per Game 19th, Interceptions 22nd, Opponent Red Zone 2nd|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 69th, Punts Per Game 126th|
2018 Orange Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners
|12-1 (8-1 Big 12); 2018 Big 12 Champions|
|Best Win: Texas (Big 12 Championship)|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 1st, Total Offense 1st, Rushing Offense 11th, 3rd Downs 5th, Time of Possession 82nd, Turnover Margin 83rd, Sacks Allowed 21st, Red Zone 15th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 96th, Total Defense 108th, Rushing Defense 53rd, Opponent 3rd Downs 114th, Sacks Per Game 63rd, TFL Per Game 68th, Interceptions 110th, Opponent Red Zone 127th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 7th, Punts Per Game 130th|
2018 Orange Bowl: Head-to-Head
Alabama and Oklahoma played five prior games, with the 2018 Orange Bowl about to be their sixth meeting in college football history.
Oklahoma leads the series, 3-1-1. The Sooners defeated Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl by a 45-31 score. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 Orange Bowl: Pick
Alabama barely suffered a scratch as they worked through the 2018 season. The SEC is far from being a Pop Warner circuit and yet they had just one close game, being the SEC title game against Georgia. Tua threw only two interceptions prior to facing the Bulldogs, a game in which he was injured. His name is very long (Tuanigamanuolepola) and so too is his list of accomplishments these last two seasons, Heisman or not. A second national championship might soon be added to it.
All he has to do is beat a Heisman winner who threw 40 touchdowns and ran for 11 more. Kyler Murray has been a little under the weather before the bowl game, but even a sick Murray is probably a very good one. That’s how you follow up a Heisman winner in Baker Mayfield: do the same thing and win it yourself. He is an offensive force unto himself, but he’s got plenty of help around him. The Oklahoma offense is scary, from Murray to Marquise Brown to CeeDee Lamb.
Oklahoma’s defense is horrible; there’s no two ways about it. The Sooners have been able to get around it by outslugging teams with defenses in the Big 12 that are not necessarily great, either. That is not a luxury they have against Alabama. The problem for Oklahoma is that Alabama might be able to stop them, but they are not going to be able to stop Alabama.
The best chance Oklahoma has is cracking the Alabama defense and making this a slugfest. That’s where they do their best work. Alabama may not cooperate; if the Tide play any defense, OU can probably forget it.