MIAMI, Florida –
Oklahoma looked like it was headed for the wrong end of an epic blowout against the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban’s bunch opened a 28-0 lead on the Sooners early in the second quarter.

However, Kyler Murray and company turned in a gritty performance the rest of the way, coming up just short, 45-34, in the college football national semifinal Orange Bowl game. It’s Oklahoma’s third college football playoff loss in four seasons.

As for Alabama, the Crimson Tide are looking for their second straight national championship and sixth under Saban. They’ll play Clemson on January 7 in Santa Clara, California.

Murray finished the game with 308 yards passing and two touchdowns, but none of them was to Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, who played some but was clearly hobbled by an injury he suffered late in the Big 12 championship game.

The Oklahoma defense did keep the Sooners in the game after the first quarter. Although OU gave up 528 yards against Alabama, they gave up less than 300 of those from early in the second quarter onward.

Oklahoma’s stellar offense was able to gain 471 yards on Alabama’s defense, but not even the offensive genius that is Lincoln Riley was able to overcome a 28-0 deficit.

The Sooners got on the board with 11:48 to play in the second quarter on a 2-yard run from Trey Sermon after a long pass from Murray to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.

Oklahoma cut the Alabama lead to 28-7 and then later to 28-10.

Oklahoma had the ball inside the 10 twice more in consecutive possessions but came away with only field goals, one to trim the ‘Bama lead to 28-10 and then to trim it to 31-13 early in the third quarter.

What gave Sooners fans some hope late in the third quarter was a 49-yard touchdown pass from Murray to little-used receiver Charleston Rambo. The bomb cut the Tide lead to 31-20.

Heisman runner up Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide hit on all cylinders in the first quarter, opening up a 21-0 lead, and then increasing it to 28-0 early in the second.

It was all Alabama to start the game, and it wasn’t close. 

Damien Harris’ second touchdown of the game gave Alabama the three-touchdown lead with 1:33 to play. 

Tua Tagovailoa capped an eight-play, 55-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III, giving Alabama a quick 14-0 lead over Oklahoma in the first quarter of the college football national semifinal at the Orange Bowl.

Alabama’s opening drive went for 75 yards on seven plays, ignited on a first-play-of-the-game play-action pass from Heisman runner up Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith over the middle for 50 yards.