2013 Free Sugar Bowl Picks: #11 Oklahoma vs #3 Alabama
2013 Free Sugar Bowl Picks, Predictions & Analysis
#11 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Date and Time: Thursday, January 2nd, 2013, 8:30 pm on ESPN
Game Line: Alabama -15 (from JustBet)
Thursday Night’s 2013 Sugar Bowl Analysis: The Oklahoma Sooners take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Allstate Sugar Bowl from the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Alabama comes in to Thursday night’s contest just missing out on a chance to play for their third straight BCS championship. A miracle play from Auburn at the end of the Iron Bowl was the play that did it. So now Alabama’s focus will be in question, as this is not the game they envisioned playing in. At 11-1 and they’ve done it with a balanced offense and a dominant defense. The offense is led by senior quarterback and Heisman trophy finalist AJ McCarron. McCarron has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 2676 yards with 23 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The rushing attack is impressive averaging 6 yards per carry, led by sophomore T.J. Yeldon (1163 yds, 13 TD) and Kenyan Drake (694 yds, 8 TD). The two main receiving threats for the Tide are senior Kevin Norwood and Amari Cooper, who have combined for 72 receptions for 1153 yards and 9 touchdowns. The offense as a whole averages 236.9 yards through the air and 212 rushing yards per game. The Crimson Tide defense ranks 2nd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 11.3 points per contest. They rank 9th in nation in total defense, allowing 274.7 yards per game.
Oklahoma received a BCS bid after upending Oklahoma State in the bedlam series 33-24. After losing to Baylor in early November, Oklahoma has won three straight against Iowa State 48-10, Kansas State 41-31, and as mentioned before Oklahoma State. They are not the high scoring offense the Sooner faithful is accustomed to see, but they are winning ball games. Their only other blemish on their record besides the loss to Baylor is a loss to Texas, a game that the Sooners just failed to establish any sort of rhythm on offense. They have a balanced offensive attack behind quarterback Blake Bell, mainly focused on the run game, averaging 186.7 yards passing and 235.8 yards rushing per game. They have two capable backs in Brennan Clay (913 yds 6 TD) and Damien Williams (553 7 TD). The defense is definitely the strength of this team, and they have allowed only 198 yards passing per game. The Sooners possess one of the more talented secondaries in the country. They have a respectable run defense as well, allowing 138.3 yards per game.
A lot of experts and media will question the level of interest that Alabama will have in this game after not getting a chance to play in the BCS championship. Back in 2008, Alabama lost to Florida in the SEC title game and ended up losing to Utah in the Sugar Bowl 31-17. Alabama went on to win the BCS championship the next year. In 2010 the Tide were looking to repeat, and it didn’t happen as they ended up in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan State, Nick Saban’s old team. The Tide responded with a 49-7 thrashing of the Spartans. So now after Nick Saban signed a contract extension to remain at Alabama, many will question the focus in this game. Well, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops isn’t the biggest fan of the SEC, and it’s widely known. Stoops was quoted a while back “A few years ago we [the Big 12] had all the quarterbacks and now all of a sudden we can play a little better defense and some other people can’t play defense,” said Stoops. “Funny how people can’t play defense when there’s pro-style quarterbacks over there.” Stoops had seemed to be implying that, now that there were a few good quarterbacks in the SEC, the conference’s vaunted defenses seemed to be struggling. Stoops has gone on record about his problems with the public perception of the SEC being the best conference in college football. If you think Nick Saban, and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart don’t take this personally, think again. Alabama is the better team from the better conference, we all know that. The question is not if they can win, it’s if they can cover the number, in which I think they can with the time they’ve had to prepare. Saban will have his squad ready, and I fully expect the Crimson Tide to take out some frustration on the Sooners. Not to mention they will be playing in the Superdome, which is SEC territory, so this isn’t good news for the Sooners. Alabama will impose their will on Oklahoma, and will prove a point Thursday night that the SEC is in fact a superior conference, and Alabama is the better team.
Free 2013 Sugar Bowl Picks (Side and Total Picks): Alabama -15 & Over 51.5
2013 Sugar Bowl Oklahoma vs. Alabama Score Prediction: Alabama 41 Oklahoma 17