Orange Bowl: Heisman-level QBs Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa will decide Alabama-Oklahoma

One thing is certain: The Heisman Trophy winner will be playing in the Orange Bowl. Whether that's Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or his Oklahoma counterpart, Kyler Murray, remains to be decided.

It's one of several intriguing backstories for this national semifinal, which pits the top-ranked and unbeaten Crimson Tide against an Oklahoma team that leaped into the four-team field after defeating Texas in the Big 12 title game to avenge its lone regular-season loss. At first blush, it's a simple matchup of offense and defense — the Sooners' record-setting offense against an Alabama defense that has dabbled in inconsistency yet remains one of the nation's best.

It's true that Murray holds the key. That Oklahoma's offense is rolling at a historic rate in the transition from Baker Mayfield is a testament to Murray's wide-ranging skill set, which features a rare blend of speed, arm power and athleticism. No team successfully bottled up the Sooners' junior star, even if no team on Oklahoma's regular-season schedule sniffed the overall strength of Alabama's defensive core.

With at least one game to go in his season, Murray already owns the school's single-season record for total offense. Only one team, Kansas, held Murray under 8.9 yards per pass attempt. He's tossed multiple touchdowns in every game but one, against Oklahoma State, and in addition to his brilliance as a passer has added 892 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Countless words were written this offseason about the specter of replacing or even approximating Mayfield's impact as a senior. As it turns, the fears were fairly overblown — Murray didn't just match Mayfield's statistical output but exceeded it.

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