Orange Bowl

Here’s what one analyst expects to see between Oklahoma and Alabama in the Orange Bowl

It’s a familiar sight this time of year.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are in the middle of another national title run as one of the top teams in college football.

Nick Saban is just two games away from hoisting another trophy with another team filled with the top talent a college football coach can find. This would mark his sixth title in 12 years at Alabama and would tie Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most in school history by a single head coach.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit cannot get enough of it, and he thinks other college football fans should feel the same way.

“They’re not slowing down. If anything, it’s just building up more and more momentum. I’m enjoying it,” Herbstreit said Thursday at the Orange Bowl media day, two days before the top-ranked Crimson Tide play the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in their College Football Playoff semifinal at Hard Rock Stadium. “I’m a traditionalist. I like to look back at college football and think about some of the great teams and great eras and I think we’re in the middle of one of arguably the greatest dynasty that we’ve ever had in college football. I don’t know how you can get fatigued of that or bored of that. If you’re a neutral fan, you enjoy it.”

Alabama (13-0) is the heavy favorite to win on Saturday, but Herbstreit does see one way for Oklahoma (12-1) to come out on top.

“They’ll just outscore Alabama,” Herbstreit said. “There’s no way that their defense is going to come out and hold [Alabama quarterback] Tua [Tagovailoa] and this Alabama offense to 17 or 20 points. I think Alabama’s going to have an opportunity to score and if we were to use our crystal ball and say Oklahoma won the game, I think it’ll be a typical Big 12 shootout where Kyler Murray outduels the quarterback and maybe the defense comes up with that big stop late in the game to kind of secure the victory.”

‘Coach Kool’ back in South Florida

Craig Kuligowski walked into Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday and felt at home. It makes sense, considering it virtually was his home for the last two football seasons.

His return comes under different circumstances, though. He has the same job as a defensive line coach, but the UM orange and green has been swapped for Alabama crimson and white. And his appearance comes with the top-ranked Crimson Tide set to face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Saturday for a spot in the College Football Playoff championship game.

It has been nine months since Kuligowski left the Hurricanes to coach under Nick Saban at Alabama, but the guy players affectionately call “Coach Kool” does not take his time in Coral Gables for granted.

“First of all, I was always greatly appreciative of coach [Mark] Richt for bringing me on staff at the University of Miami,” Kuligowski said during Alabama’s media day appearance at Hard Rock Stadium. “I became good friends with Manny Diaz and most of the coaches on staff. I really enjoyed being here. There are a lot of things about Miami you can’t get anywhere else, but as a coach, you have to focus on your career. ... I enjoyed being here. I enjoyed the fans. I loved being here. It’s a great university and it’s a great place. I’ve gotten such warm welcomes from just about everybody.”

This and that

Tagovailoa said his ankle is about “80 to 85 percent” full strength and once again reaffirmed that he expects to be ready for Saturday’s Orange Bowl game. “We’re still doing rehab at the moment,” Tagovailoa said. “You know, hopefully leading up to the game it’ll feel a lot better.”

With wind and rain in the forecast, Oklahoma moved its practice on Thursday from Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory in Hollywood to the Miami Dolphins’ indoor practice bubble at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.
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