FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Curtis Bolton felt like Kansas State was the best offensive line he saw during regular-season game preparation. On the field, he felt Texas Tech’s presence up front more than any other team.
By Saturday, he knows Alabama’s offensive line will be a challenge unlike any this Oklahoma team has seen.
Starters Jonah Williams (6-5, 301 pounds), Deonte Brown (6-4, 344), Ross Pierschbacher (6-4, 309), Alex Leatherwood (6-6, 304) and Jedrick Willis Jr. (6-5, 309), helped the Crimson Tide become a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation’s best offensive line.
OU took home the trophy, but in a close vote.
“[Texas Tech and Kansas State], I don’t think they line up with Alabama’s offensive line at all. At the end of the day, they play smashmouth football down here and that’s something that we’ve got to adjust to,” Bolton said. “We haven’t seen that. We haven’t seen an O-line as nasty as that all year and that’s something that we’re going to have to adjust to, but we’re going to be fine.”
• Seventy points: When Army’s triple-option offense exploded in a 70-14 victory over Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl, there were plenty of happy folks in Norman.
Not that it mattered in the College Football Playoff selection process anymore, but OU’s slim 28-21 overtime win over the Black Knights suddenly looked more impressive.
“Not used to seeing triple options scoring that many points, but happy for that team, I think they proved a lot this year,” OU defensive end Amani Bledsoe said.
Army racked up 507 yards and eight touchdowns rushing. Bolton admitted it was an unusual point total for a run team, but he wasn’t surprised.
“Those boys are tough. We always knew they were a good team,” Bolton said. “Everybody’s going to say ‘Army this, Army that,’ but they were a solid team, I wasn’t very surprised.”
• Acclimating: Temperatures were in the 70s when OU practiced Monday and are expected to be closer to the 80s when the Orange Bowl arrives Saturday.
Playing in a new locale always brings a few changes that need normalizing.
“We actually had some pretty nice weather to practice in back home,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “So it’s not a huge difference. It’ll be a little bit warmer at night but we’ve been practicing during the day in temperatures actually not too much different. I don’t think it will be that much different at all.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban didn’t seem too interested in talking about how weather will impact the game.
“I think the field will be 53 yards wide and 100 yards deep and it will have the same markings on it as any field,” he said. “I think it’s about trying to execute, block, tackle and do the things you need to do to play winning football against a very good team.”
• Quotable: Saban said he felt more comfortable this season balancing recruiting before the early signing date and preparing for a CFP game.
“There’s no question it is a little fragmented in trying to do all of these things at once. I think that any coach could probably tell you that. You’re practicing during signing day, when people are signing. You’re preparing for a game when you’re trying to wind up recruiting and manage your team as well as all of the things that are happening in recruiting. It’s a challenge. There’s no question that it’s a little fragmented in trying to do all of these things at once but I still think that you do the best you can. Now we have one thing to focus on and that’s the game.”