The Crimson Tide needed just 17 minutes to jump ahead of the powerful offense, 28-0, as Tagovailoa beat the guy that edged him for the Heisman Trophy, Kyler Murray. The Bama quarterback overcame an SEC Championship injury, completing 24 of his 27 passes and throwing touchdowns to four different receivers. That included him starting 9-for-9 for 184 yards, while Murray struggled to find a groove early on against the Alabama defense.
Murray was sacked twice, as he did not get a pass off until his team was already trailing, 21-0. He did put up some offense before the end of the game, throwing for 308 yards and running for 109, but the Heisman Trophy winner fell short of bringing the Sooners their first National Championship since the 2000 season. And now, Murray has the decision if he will go play for the Oakland Athletics, or go for the NFL Draft this April. Meanwhile, the Tide will now focus on the National Championship Game in just over a week, which will be against a familiar foe.
That is the second-ranked Tigers, who took care of the third-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish with ease, 30-3, in the Cotton Bowl. Trevor Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns, sending the Tigers to the National Championship Game for the third time in the past four seasons. The only other time they missed the National Championship Game in that time span, was when they faced the Crimson Tide in the semi-finals.
The Tigers remain unbeaten at 14-0 this season, as is Alabama, and the Tigers defense held the Fighting Irish to 248 yards, and handed them their first defeat of the year. This semi-final matchup was just Lawrence's 10th career start, as he completed 27 of his 39 passes and did not throw an interception. His top target was freshman, Justyn Ross, who had six catches for 148 yards and two long touchdown plays. Lawrence also found Tee Higgins for a one-handed, 19-yard touchdown catch in the second, as Clemson pulled away with 20 points right before halftime. The Tigers' quarterback completed 13 of his 15 passes for 229 yards in those 15 minutes.
The Irish continue to struggle come the postseason, as they dropped to 0-8 in BCS and New Year's Six Bowl Games since winning the Cotton Bowl in 1993. They trailed, 23-3, by halftime, and can now add this to the list of big losses come this time of the year. That includes a 42-14 loss to Alabama in 2012 and a 44-28 loss to Ohio State last season. They also became the first Clemson opponent to stay within 20 points since the Syracuse Orange was held that low on September 29th. The Tigers will now do battle once again with the Crimson Tide on January 7th.