Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Alabama

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. AlabamaSugar Bowl Matchup: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Date/Time: January 2nd, 8:30 ET

Television: ESPN

Sugar Bowl Odds from WagerWeb

Point Spread: Alabama -15

Total: 51.5

The Alabama Crimson Tide are one of the trickiest teams to try to handicap this year in any of the bowl games, as the last time we saw them, they were getting beaten on the final play of the game in the wildest fashion against the Auburn Tigers. They’ve got the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd.

No one is giving the Sooners a whole heck of a lot of love in this game, and there’s a great reason for it. The team has failed to cover five straight games against SEC teams, and it is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven bowl games. In the mix includes getting romped by the Texas A&M Aggies last year, losing to the Florida Gators in the 2009 National Championship Game, getting smacked by the LSU Tigers here in the Sugar Bowl, and getting covered in both games against the Crimson Tide when these programs played in 2002 and 2003. This Sooners team never really established their quarterback this year. QB Blake Bell was the incumbent, got beaten out by QB Trevor Knight, who stunk, was replaced by Bell, who got hurt, who was replaced by Knight, who got hurt, and in the final game of the year against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the game which put the Sooners in the BCS, they used Bell, Knight, and QB Kendal Thompson at points during the game. The key is the OU defense, which averaged allowing just 336.3 yards and 21.3 points per game, as good of a defense as Head Coach Bob Stoops and the staff in Norman has produced in years.

The big question for the Sugar Bowl is whether the Crimson Tide are going to show up and play. If they come out the way that they did against the Michigan State Spartans in the Capital One Bowl the last time they weren’t in the BCS National Championship Game, they’re going to have a phenomenal game. If they come out the way they did against the Utah Utes the time before that when they didn’t play in the BCS National Championship game, they’re going to get killed. Under the leadership of QB AJ McCarron, who is playing in his last collegiate game, we just don’t see this team coming out flat, though. We think that it goes without argument that the Crimson Tide legitimately had one of the best two teams in the nation this year, as no matter what justification you use for the Auburn Tigers being in the National Championship Game, Bama would have won the Iron Bowl at least seven out of 10 times in that situation. Alabama has a lot to prove in trying to stop the run, as it allowed 296 rushing yards to Auburn in that last game of the regular season. The Crimson Tide, in spite of that game, still ranked 11th against the run this year at 108.3 yards per game.

The Crimson Tide just don’t lose bowl games under Head Coach Nick Saban. Their only loss in his time with the team was against the Utah Utes right here in the Sugar Bowl, which happens to be the last game which the Tide lost against a team from outside the SEC. Oklahoma hasn’t had a great history of winning bowl games under Stoops, and the last time the team won a BCS game was back at the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, and the squad has only gone 1-5 SU and ATS in BCS games since 2003.

Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.