The Alabama Crimson Tide have been a mainstay in the College Football Playoff since its inception five years ago, making the four-team postseason tournament every single season under Nick Saban. This year, top-seeded Alabama will take on No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 with the winner advancing to the national title game. The Crimson Tide are a two-touchdown favorite and here are five reasons why they will get a chance at making it back-to-back national titles.
5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Win the Orange Bowl
1. The Crimson Tide are downright offensive
For the first time in the Nick Saban-led decade of dominance, his dynasty can advertise the fact they have an "A-La-Carte" offense. Alabama can beat you any which way it chooses. Tua Tagovailoa can surgically and cerebrally pick you apart down the field, with next-level anticipatory throws, connecting on vertical shot after vertical shot to five different weapons. Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III, Irv Smith Jr., and Devonta Smith all have at least 30 receptions, 500 yards and five touchdowns this season while averaging 17 yards per catch. That is virtually unheard of with an Alabama passing game. If Saban, Mike Locksley and Dan Enos feel compelled to engage in a high-flying shootout, they are equipped to do so, even against Oklahoma.
What if The Crimson Tide want to play ground-and-pound football to keep Kyler Murray and the Sooners' offense on the sidelines? Well, they can do that as well. Don't forget, Alabama has a trio of top-notch running backs that could very well challenge Oklahoma's desire to tackle. Damien Harris, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs are all very talented and almost impossible to get down with just one defender. The trio has combined for 1,945 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Can we say, pick your poison?
2. No Tua, no problem
Tua Tagovailoa will likely enter the Orange Bowl at less than 100 percent after injuring his ankle in the SEC Championship Game. Most people believe he will start and play, but in the event he doesn't, or can't finish the game Saban has the ultimate luxury. Jalen Hurts isn't your typical backup quarterback. Hurts boasts a 26-2 lifetime record, is coming off of a come-from-behind victory to propel Alabama past Georgia in the SEC title game, has a renewed sense of confidence and oh by the way, he left the 2017 national championship as a freshman with the lead against Clemson before Deshaun Watson's last-second, game-winning touchdown. If Saban is forced to go to Hurts, he'll do so with confidence. The kid is a winner.
3. Alabama's defense is still pretty good
Oklahoma and much of the Big 12 subscribe to the theory of "defense is optional." That is not the case in SEC or certainly at Alabama. Lost in all of the hysteria over Tua Tagovailoa and a record-setting offense lurks a very talented (and under-appreciated?) Crimson Tide defense. A defense that is far more capable of making stops in pressurized situations than the Sooners. Alabama is 12th in the nation in total defense and fourth in points per game allowed. For as much hand-wringing and debate that there has been over this defense, the numbers are still very good. Oklahoma will probably score some points, but they won't come consistently or in bunches.
4. Fierce first line of defense
All of America will be focused on Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. It's only natural. We look at the quarterbacks, our eyes drift to the RBs, WRs and skill players on the perimeter. But football is won in the trenches and Alabama's defensive line, led by Quinnen Williams, is talented and deep enough to wreak havoc up front and make life miserable for Oklahoma's offensive line as well as Kyler Murray. Williams is just a redshirt sophomore but he's been skyrocketing up NFL drafts boards after earning consensus All-American honors and winning the Outland Trophy. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder is a game-changer at the point of attack, and he's not alone with Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis alongside him. The Sooners' offensive line is one of the best in the nation but it has yet to face a front like the Crimson Tide's.
5. Riley is great, Saban is better
Lincoln Riley is a fabulous coach. He's taken the Sooners to the College Football Playoff in back-to-back years with two highly decorated, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks. There is a reason he's so highly coveted by NFL franchises. However, Nick Saban is still the master. Saban has had more than three weeks to devise a game plan to slow down Kyler Murray and Oklahoma's high-octane offense. I don't believe the Crimson Tide defense will stifle the Sooners' offense completely, but they should be able to keep it in check, to the tune of 28 points or less.
— Written by Nick Kayal, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network as a college football and NFL writer. Nick is a Morning Show Host in Nashville on 102.5 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @NickKayal.