Tua Tagovailoa threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns and No 1-ranked Alabama beat No 4 Oklahoma 45-34 on Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl.
The high-scoring Sooners reached the semifinal despite a porous defense that was no match for Alabama’s diverse attack, and the Crimson Tide led 28-0 after only 17 minutes.
Alabama (14-0) advanced to the national championship game for the fourth consecutive season and will play on 7 January in Santa Clara, California against familiar foe Clemson, which beat Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. Clemson, ranked No 2, and Alabama will face off in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, and have split two title games.
Both teams will enter 14-0. The winner will be major college football’s first 15-0 team since Penn in 1897.
“They’ve got a great program and a great team,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I’m sure it’ll be a great challenge for us, and I’m sure we’ll need to play better than we did today.”
Tagovailoa’s performance in the semifinal argued for a Florida recount in the Heisman Trophy vote. He finished as the runner-up to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray but won sweet consolation by completing 24 of 27 passes, with scores to four receivers.
“It’s always good to see your hard work pay off,” said Tagovailoa, who played on a sore left ankle.