The Oklahoma Sooners are in the College Football Playoff for the third time in four years but they may face their most daunting task yet in the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. An early 14-point underdog is no doubt a motivating factor but how that will ultimately affect the X’s and O’s of the game has yet to be discussed.
Before we jump into game planning and strategy there are four pressing questions regarding this specific matchup that should be discussed.
Is Alabama’s Defense Really That Good?
The Tide are ranked 9th nationally in total defense (295.4 YPG) and fourth nationally in scoring defense (14.8 PPG). They are the pride of the SEC and provide plenty of fodder for the talking heads that say the Big 12 is an offensive league only because the conference refuses to play defense.
While I’m not going to try and discredit the Alabama defense, nor defend the defensive struggles of the Big 12, I am going to point out that the Crimson Tide don’t play against the spread offenses week in and week out.
The Tide didn’t face a Top 10 offense all season long. The closest they got was LSU, who is 12th, and Texas A&M who is 30th. While you can’t really question a 13-0 record, you can point to a defense that played against eight opponents ranked 122nd or lower in scoring offense plus a 5-6 FCS Citadel team. That’s nine out of thirteen games against poor-ranking offenses.
- Louisville (207th)
- Arkansas State (132nd)
- Louisiana (133rd)
- Arkansas (219th)
- Tennessee (269th)
- Auburn (215th)
- Georgia (122nd)
Behind Heisman front-runner Kyler Murray the Sooners are bringing the nation’s top overall offense (577.9 YPG) to South Beach. Scoring at a pace of 49.3 points per game (17th nationally) the Sooners provide the perfect matchup for Bama’s vaunted defense.
While it’s undeniable to say that Oklahoma hasn’t faced a defense this season like the one they’re going to see in Alabama, it’s also a valid point that the Crimson Tide haven’t seen anything like the offense the Sooners have.