MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Alabama jumped out to a four-touchdown lead before eventually beating Oklahoma 45-34 in the CFP semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Saturday night, and Sooners defensive players were both surprised and disappointed.
"It was stunning," said Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray of Alabama's fast start. "They're a good team, so they got off to a great start and we didn't."
"I mean, that's what it really came down to," he added. "In the end, that's what killed us."
Alabama hung 21 points on Oklahoma in the first quarter alone.
"Yeah, it's not the result that we wanted or expected," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. "Kind of a tale of two different games for us. The start of the game, give Alabama credit, they're a really good football team. They made a run on us there early. We just had a hard time breaking their string of momentum."
Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was only four weeks removed from a high-ankle sprain, was accurate and efficient, completing 24 of 27 passes for 318 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tagovailoa was seen getting his left ankle -- which he estimated was at 80-85 percent healthy earlier in the week -- taped after the game. He wore a protective walking boot as he left the locker room for the team bus.
Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Tre Brown, unlike Murray, was not caught off guard by the Alabama offense.
"Not at all," Brown said. "We knew what was coming, but it sucks that we didn't make the plays."
When asked about the Henry Ruggs III touchdown catch he failed to stop, Brown said, "It was just there perfectly. That's something Tua is good at."
Oklahoma made a game of it after that 28-0 start by Alabama, getting to within two scores of the Tide several times in the second half.
But Tagovailoa & Co. were just too much. Alabama went heavy into the running game, rushing for 200 yards, and Tagovailoa made several key passes.
Tagovailoa found South Florida native Jerry Jeudy for a 13-yard touchdown with six minutes remaining in the contest that essentially iced it.
"Do I think Tua should have won the Heisman? Yes," he said. "Did that give us extra motivation in this game? No. We know how special Tua is. Everybody in the country knows how special Tua is. A trophy doesn't define him.
"Awards are not what we do. They're not what we shoot for. We shoot for national championships. We shoot to play together as a team and to be who we are. With or without that Heisman Trophy, we know what we have and we know what we have in Tua."
Tagovailoa found Murray after the game to congratulate him on his season.
"Me and Kyler just told each other, 'Great game,'" Tagovailoa said. "He said, 'I love you.' I told him, 'I love you, too.' Aside from that, I just told him, 'Great season.'
"He had a great season. ... But when you look at it, we're both competitors. I think he's done a tremendous job with the offense; Lincoln Riley's done a tremendous job, as well. I just think overall, at the end of the day, we're both competitors -- and we're gonna do whatever we can to help our team become successful."