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Alabama starting left guard Deonte Brown, tight end Kedrick James and offensive tackle Elliott Baker will not play in the Orange Bowl on Saturday against Oklahoma due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, per an official statement from head coach Nick Saban.
They will not travel with the team either. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports first reported the news.
Brown has started five games for Alabama after taking over at left guard midway through this season. The sophomore is one of the driving forces behind a stout rushing attack that averages 5.34 yards per carry and 202.2 yards a game.
Baker has not played in a game this season. James has made five appearances.
Even without Brown at left guard, Alabama shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball.
Alabama is a 14-point favorite in the College Football Playoff semifinal, according to OddsShark. Furthermore, OU’s defense has struggled all year in allowing 32.4 points per game. That figure ranks just 96th out of 130 Division I-FBS teams.
As is, Alabama’s biggest concern is on defense anyway. The most conceivable way for OU to pull off an upset is if quarterback Kyler Murray leads the Sooners to a shootout win, which he’s done often this year.
The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner has thrown for 40 touchdowns and rushed for 11 more, and he has a talented crew of pass-catchers led by Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, who combined for 2,367 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.
If Murray runs free all game and can find Brown and Lamb consistently, OU can come out on top here. However, the Alabama starting defense allowed the fourth-fewest points per game in Division I-FBS. That unit is currently intact for Saturday, which should most likely enable the Crimson Tide to withstand the Brown suspension.