By Jamie MacDonald | Dec. 28, 2018, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

'Tis the season. Bowl season, that is. And we're nearing the end of that most wonderful time of the year as the semifinals are on tap this weekend, with national intrigue surrounding the question of: Can anyone beat 'Bama? The No. 1 Crimson Tide face the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners in Saturday's Orange Bowl.

We asked an alum from each school — five-time Paralympic medalist cyclist Jennifer Schuble (Alabama) and two-time Olympic medalist gymnast Jonathan Horton (Oklahoma), both of whom coincidentally share deep ties to Houston — about the tall task with the answers falling along party lines.


Jennifer Schuble

Sport: Para-cycling
College: Alabama

What does it mean to alumni that your alma mater made it this far?
That Alabama continues the winning tradition as Alabama has participated in every college playoff. It’s one step closer to national championship game. I'm proud that I was a student-athlete at Alabama.

What intrigues you the most about the matchup?
I lived in Oklahoma for two years, and my older brother went to OU. There is a sibling rivalry for this Orange Bowl. We will both be watching this game, and we will have fun talking smack to each other leading up to the game, during the game and after the game. It’s already started!

Where will you watch the game from, and what are you most looking forward to about it?
I will be in Alabama! I can’t wait to watch Alabama win and move on to the national championship. I look forward to Alabama showing off their defense. I don’t expect OU to score on Alabama like they have in the Big 12. I love the tradition where I work, too — if Alabama wins the Orange Bowl, the Mercedes-Benz factory that I work in will shut down for the national championship. We will cancel night-shift production on Tuesday night. So, if Alabama beats OU, I get to send email notifications to my automotive suppliers in South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky, Michigan, Georgia and Tennessee that we are canceling night production for an Alabama football game. The SEC, Clemson, Michigan, OSU fans that work at my suppliers love getting those emails. That is how committed Alabama fans are - that we shut down a factory for the national championship game.

Who will be the game’s biggest star?
[Defensive tackle] Quinnen Williams. He will make the big plays against the OU offense .

Final score prediction?
Alabama will win 52-31. Roll Tide!

 

Jonathan Horton
Sport: Gymnastics
College: University of Oklahoma

What does it mean to alumni that your alma mater made it this far?
Well, it’s super exciting and always great to see Oklahoma advance in a big way, no matter what sport. You know, we haven’t had a ton of success when it comes to Bowl games success, but we’re hoping this is our year.

What intrigues you the most about the matchup?
I think what intrigues me the most is the fact that we have what so many people are saying is the most powerful offense in the country. But then Alabama is the most powerful team in the country, in general. So I think so many people are saying we’re going to get blown out by Alabama because our defense is so bad, but I think our offense is so good and has been hearing the trash talk for the past month and they’re going to step up. I’m curious to see if we can step up on all sides of the game and keep Alabama on their toes.

Where will you be watching the game, and what are you most looking forward to about it?
Because I travel so much, I’ll be in California doing an event for Ninja Warrior, so I’m not really even going to be home during the game and my birthday is also on the 31st, so I’ll be away from my family and friends during the game. But I’ll be hanging out with some business partners and friends in California, and I’m excited to be able to watch it even though I’m not around the people I would typically watch with. It should be a good time.

Who will be the game’s biggest star?
Obviously our Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray, will be in the mix. I’m hopeful he steps up and lights up. But it’s going to be really interesting to see the battle between two Heisman superstars. I want to see if Tua [Tagovailoa] steps up and says, "You know what? Forget this, I should be a Heisman Trophy winner," and I think we’re just going to see a battle between two amazing quarterbacks.

Final score prediction?
Oh, I hate this question. I’m not a football analyst and I never know what type of score to throw up but I’m going to say it’s going to be a high-scoring game, it’s going to be a super close one. It’s going to be 49-48 Oklahoma (laughter). It’ll be an onside kick that Oklahoma recovers at the very end of the game and they will pull off a miracle.