When Alabama coach Nick Saban says it’s difficult to prepare for a quarterback like Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, it makes plenty of sense.
Of course we believe Saban. He’s not just talking for the sake of talking, like he does the weeks his team plays Tennessee Chattanooga or Furman, or some other school paid to come in and give the Tide a controlled vacation.
The reason Saban said that about Murray is because it’s true. Good run-pass quarterbacks, the kind who have been chewing up Oklahoma defenses since Michael Bishop of Kansas State all the way up to Vince Young and Sam Ehlinger, also fare pretty well against Alabama, too.
So, while the Oklahoma defense has taken, and deserved, a good amount of criticism this season for being basically being allergic to defense, you don’t hear a lot about Bama and the fact it never really faces an elite quarterback.
After all, Saban made the case that little, ol Trevor Knight and the Oklahoma Sugar Bowl team was such a tough matchup that college football ought to think about a rule change or two.
The truth is, not only does Bama rarely face an elite quarterback, when it does, the Tide don’t do very well – not just this season, but in the past several seasons. Losers to Cam and Auburn, Deshaun Watson and Clemson, Johnny Manziel and A&M. Past that, are there even any really great quarterbacks, and not the ones the palm-branch waving SEC media and coaches prop up in their own conference, that Bama has faced?
Kelly Bryant of Clemson and Jake Fromm at Georgia are quality quarterbacks, but they aren’t elite, run-pass guys like Murray is. Or Baker Mayfield was.
Oklahoma has Murray and he’s the best quarterback Alabama has faced this season. And Mayfield would have been the best last season. Oklahoma isn’t going to slow down anything Georgia or Bama puts out there on offense. All the Sooner defense needs is a few high throws on third down. A holding call on second down. Just enough, just Bama being a bit off. The defense doesn’t have to do much. But that’s not the issue. Murray is going to put up some points on Bama, just like Mayfield did a season ago against Georgia. The result is significant. Bama hasn’t felt real pressure to score this season and the potential pressure on an offense to score when it hasn’t had to can be crushing.
OU’s used to being behind, needing to score, having to have its offense be perfect. The Tide haven’t had anything close to that and they haven’t seen an elite quarterback, either – just like it’s been for some time.
Alabama is really good. Loaded. Just like every year, but they get a huge pass not having to regularly face great quarterbacks week in and week out.
This is the week the Tide does and it won’t work out that well for them
I’ll take all the points anyone wants to give me. I’ll also take Kyler Murray (and Oklahoma) to win, 54-44.