Tua Tagovailoa threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns as Alabama advanced to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game with a 45-34 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl at Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Crimson Tide will face Clemson on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif., for the title.
“We played against a good team today and won, so I’m really proud of our players,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban told ESPN on the field after the game.
Alabama got off to a red-hot start, building a 28-0 lead by the time the second quarter was two minutes old.
Tagovailoa outperformed his counterpart, Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, especially early.
“My left ankle is still uncertain right now, we’re still trying to get better with it,” Tagovailoa said after the game. “I don’t know if it was better tonight, but right now it’s all right.”
Alabama’s defense made life difficult on Murray from the start, sacking him twice in Oklahoma’s first three offensive plays of the game and three time overall. Murray had been sacked just 15 times all season coming into the game.
Murray did help the Sooners climb back into the game, finishing with 308 yards passing with two touchdowns and running for 109 yards and another score.
But Oklahoma could never get closer than 11 points.
Each team had a big-time star as a question mark for health reasons coming into the game.
Alabama’s — Tagovailoa — showed little effects from the ankle injury that required surgery after the Crimson Tide’s come-from-behind win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
Tagovailoa was able to move around in the pocket and make the throws that made him a Heisman runner-up.
“It’s always good to see our hard work pay off. Just, with the team, working hard with the team as well, it’s good to see that … everyone’s happy,” Tagovailoa added.
Oklahoma’s, though, had little impact on the game. Receiver Marquise Brown was playing just a few miles from where he grew up in nearby Hollywood, Fla., but it was clear from the start that the foot injury that knocked him out of the Big 12 championship game would not allow him to be his typical explosive self.
On the first offensive play for the Sooners, Brown went in motion and was eventually run into by Murray. Brown finished without a catch and didn’t play much after the first quarter.
DeVonta Smith led the Crimson Tide (14-0) with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. CeeDee Lamb had eight catches for 109 yards for the Sooners (12-2).
Alabama is in the title game for the fourth consecutive game and will face Clemson for the third time in those four seasons.