Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Oklahoma

00:00 December 21, 2013

 Anything less than a BCS National Championship for Alabama fans is a failure. But, spending the first week of 2014 on Bourbon Street could help drown the sorrows of knowing arch-rival Auburn will play for that title. The good news for Tide supporters – Nick Saban isn’t leaving and they’ll more than likely be back in the mix in 2014. This year they’ll have to settle for the Sugar Bowl and a date with Oklahoma. Alabama is a two touchdown favorite over the Sooners according to the odds makers.
Nick Saban and company finished the season 11-1 overall. The Tide are led by Heisman trophy finalist A.J. McCarron who tossed 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season. He and the rest of Alabama’s offense averaged nearly 40 points a night. Their rushing attack, led by T.J. Yeldon, is solid. It ranks fourth in the SEC accounting for 212 yards a game. The Crimson Tide are who they are because of their defense. They are first in nearly every statistically category in the SEC. They allow 11.3 points a game. That’s why they are tough to beat. Senior C.J. Mosley finished fourth in the league with 102 tackles. Offensive coordinators will gladly send him off the NFL after the Sugar Bowl.
Oklahoma and head coach Bob Stoops finished the regular season 10-2. Their offense ranks near the middle of the pack in the Big 12, averaging 29 points a contest. The Sooners run the ball well and play good defense. They rank 18th in the country with 235.8 rushing yards a contest. Their quarterback play hasn’t been great and it’s unclear who will start the Sugar Bowl for the Sooners. Defensively, Oklahoma has playmakers that could make this one much closer than Vegas expects. They finished second in the Big 12 in scoring defense by allowing less than 24 points a game.
Stoops and Saban squared off in the Superdome for a National Title ten years ago. Saban was the head coach at LSU and that championship is a distant memory for the man who has won three others since then. This time their date won’t be for all the marbles. But, it will be for plenty of bragging rights and a chance for Stoops to back up his smack talk that the SEC is not as good as advertised. Both of these teams were a few plays away from playing in Pasadena. It will be interesting to see how they react to playing for much less than the coveted crystal ball. Prediction: Alabama 38, Oklahoma 23.
Photo courtesy OU Athletic Communications

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