Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with his wife after the win over the Oklahoma Sooners.
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Alabama, Clemson to play for national title again

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 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The high-scoring Sooners (12-2) reached the postseason 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 Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California, against familiar foe Clemson (14-0), 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.

Georgia just missed a shot at the playoffs when it lost to Alabama 35-28 in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bulldogs gave the Crimson Tide a bigger scare than Oklahoma did.

Tagovailoa completed 24 of 27 passes, with scores to four receivers against the Sooners.

In the other semifinal Saturday, Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns for Clemson.

The Tigers’ overpowering and experienced defensive line smothered Ian Book and the Fighting Irish (12-1). 

But Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made sure to praise his freshman QB too after the game.

"He's just so poised. He just sees it. And he's got a gift of an arm," Swinney said. "But I just love his humility and how consistent he is with his preparation, day in and day out. Easy, easy guy to coach. Easy guy to get behind and support. His teammates love him."

Lawrence, making his 10th career start, was 27 for 39 and did not throw an interception against a Notre Dame defense that had been one of the best on the country. Freshman receiver Justyn Ross had six catches for 148 yards and two long touchdowns.

"It makes it a lot easier on me when you just have guys all around you who are such great players and take that load off of you. There's not much pressure when you have guys this good playing around you," Lawrence said.

The Irish hung around for a quarter, with the teams exchanging field goals. But in the first quarter, Notre Dame All-America cornerback Julian Love went out with what coach Brian Kelly said after the game was a head injury and Lawrence started taking apart the Irish.

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