College Football Betting Picks Sugar Bowl: #11 Oklahoma Sooners vs #3 Alabama Crimson Tide

2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl
#11 Oklahoma Sooners vs #3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Thursday, January 2, 2013, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Alabama -14
Current Line: Alabama -17
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 52
Opening Money Line: Alabama -600 / Oklahoma +450
Current Money Line: Alabama -750 / Oklahoma +540 

Alabama is a 17 point favorite over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl Thursday night.
Alabama is a 17 point favorite over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl Thursday night.

Two of college football’s most prestigious programs meet in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl Thursday night in New Orleans. The #3 Alabama Crimson Tide are 11-1 this season as they take on the #11 Oklahoma Sooners who are 10-2 this season. Alabama went 7-1 in the SEC West, but lost their last game of the season at rival Auburn 34-28 when the Tigers returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the game. The stunning heartbreaking loss not only cost Alabama a spot in the SEC Championship game but also likely a chance to win their third straight BCS National Championship game under coach Nick Saban.

The Crimson Tide must avoid a letdown in the Sugar Bowl against the Sooners. Oklahoma went 7-2 in the Big 12 and tied with Oklahoma State and Texas for second behind 8-1 Baylor. In the last game of the season, Oklahoma upset Oklahoma State 33-24 in Stillwater. The loss cost the Cowboys the Big 12 title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma then received one of the BCS at large berths.

This is the fourth meeting between these two blue chip programs. Oklahoma leads the series 2-1-1. The Crimson Tide won the first meeting 17-0 in the 1963 Orange Bowl. They tied 24-24 in the 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. Oklahoma swept a home and home in 2002 and 2003 including 20-13 in Tuscaloosa in 2003.

Oklahoma is 27-18-1 all-time in bowl games. They have gone to 15 straight bowls under coach Bob Stoops. Stoops is the only coach that has led his team to appearances in all five BCS bowls. The Sooners lost in the Cotton Bowl last year to Texas A&M 41-13 to snap a three game winning streak in bowls.  Oklahoma is 4-2 all-time in the Sugar Bowl, and hasn’t played here since 2004 when they lost to LSU 21-14.

Alabama is 35-22-3 all-time in bowl games. Alabama is playing in their 10th straight bowl game. The Crimson Tide have won 4 straight bowl games, including 3 BCS National Championships. The Tide rolled over Notre Dame 42-14 in the 2013 BCS Championship game. Alabama is 8-5 all-time in the Sugar Bowl but lost their last appearance here in 2009 to Utah 31-17. The Crimson Tide did beat LSU 21-0 in the 2012 BCS Championship game in the Superdome though.

Oklahoma has losses to Texas 36-20 in Dallas and at Baylor 41-12. The Sooners have home wins over ULM 34-0, west Virginia 16-7, Tulsa 51-20, TCU 20-17, Texas Tech 38-30,  and Iowa State 48-30. Oklahoma has road wins at Notre Dame 35-21, Kansas 34-19, Kansas State 41-31, and Oklahoma State. The Sooners have won 3 straight games. Oklahoma is 7-5 ATS and the total is 6-5-1 this season. The Sooners were 10 point underdogs at Oklahoma State and the total was 57.

Oklahoma is outscoring teams 32-21 this season. The Sooners are #22 in points allowed and #49 in scoring out of 125 FBS teams nationally. Oklahoma is averaging 422.5 yards per game on offense including 186.7 passing and 235.8 rushing yards. The Sooners are #17 nationally in rushing and #101 in passing. On defense, Oklahoma is allowing 336.3 total yards per game including 198 passing and 138.3 rushing yards. The Sooners are #27 or better nationally in all three categories. OU is +5 in turnovers with 20 takeaways. The Sooners average 52 penalty yards per game, and opponents are averaging 49. Oklahoma is 80/195 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 59/180. The Sooners have forced 26 sacks and allowed 14 this season. Oklahoma is 45/52 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns, and opponents are 28/13 with 19 touchdowns. Oklahoma has 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed 2 this season.

Oklahoma has used two quarterbacks this season, but both have battled injury.  Blake  Bell has completed 60.1% of his passes for 1,648 yards with 12 touchdowns and 5 picks, along with 75 carries for 255 yards. Knight has thrown for 471 yards with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 62 carries for 438 yards and 2 touchdowns. Knight is questionable with a hand injury. Stoops hasn’t announced his starter yet, but both could see action if Knight is able to go. Another quarterback Kendal Thompson has thrown for 64 yards with a touchdown and an interception in limited action.

Running back Brennan Clay has 158 carries, 913 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 63 yards. Damien Williams has 114 catches, 553 yards and 7 touchdown, along with 9 catches for 90 yards. Roy Finch has 59 carries for 347 yards, along with 10 catches for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns. Versatile fullback Trey Millard tore his ACL. He had a rushing TD and a receiving TD.

Receiver  Jalen Saunders has 56 catches, 664 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 2 punt returns for touchdowns and 40 rushing yards. Sterling Shepard  has 44 catches, 540 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 30 rushing yards. Lacoltan Bester has 21 catches for 287 yards and a touchdown catch, and also threw a touchdown pass. Jaz Reynolds and Durron Neal will also get some catches. Four defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out Thursday.

Alabama has a win over Virginia Tech 35-10 in Atlanta, plus home wins over Colorado State 31-6, Ole Miss 25-0, Georgia State 45-3, Arkansas 52-0, Tennessee 45-10, LSU 38-17, and Chattanooga 49-0. The Crimson Tide have road wins over Texas A&M 49-42, Kentucky 48-7, and Mississippi State 20-7. Alabama is 6-5-1 ATS and the total is 6-5-1 this season. The Crimson Tide were 10 point favorites against Auburn and the total was 52.5.

Alabama is outscoring teams 39-11 this season. The Crimson Tide are #2 in points allowed and #16 in scoring nationally. Alabama is averaging 448.9 total yards (#36 nationally) per game on offense including 236.9 passing and 212 rushing (#21 nationally) yards.  On defense, the Crimson Tide are allowing 274.7 yards per game including 166.3 passing and 108.3 rushing yards. Alabama is #4 in total defense, #4 in passing and #9 against the rush nationally. The Crimson Tide are +6 in turnovers with 18 takeaways. Alabama is averaging 40 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 39. The Crimson Tide is 71/147 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 58/179. Alabama has forced 21 sacks and allowed 10 this season. The Crimson Tide are 41/50 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns and opponents are 14/22 with 11 touchdowns. Alabama has 7 defensive /special teams touchdowns and has allowed one very costly special teams touchdown.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has completed 67.6% of his passes for 2,676 yards with 26 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 21 rushing yards. He was the Heisman runner-up to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. This is the last game of his brilliant college career for the senior. Back-up Blake Sims has thrown for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also has 61 rushing yards.

Running back T.J. Yeldon has 190 carries, 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns along with 18 catches for 160 yards. Kenyan Drake has 92 catches, 694 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 135 yards and a  touchdown. Derrick Henry has 28 carries for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Receiver Amari Cooper has 36 catches for 615 yards and four touchdowns, plus 28 rushing yards. Kevin Norwood has 36 catches, 538 yards and 7 touchdowns. DeAndrew White has 29 catches for 395 yards and 3 touchdowns. Christion Jones has 36 catches, 349 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 punt returns and a kick return for touchdowns. Jalston Fowler has 5 touchdown catches, along with 88 rushing yards. None Alabama defensive players including 4 linemen and 4 defensive backs are listed on the injury report.

Oklahoma is 4-1 ATS overall, 9-3 in non-conference games, 2-5 in bowl games, 1-6 in January, and 0-5 against SEC teams.

Alabama is 4-0 ATS in January, and in bowl games, 8-1 in neutral site games, 5-1 in Big 12 games, 4-1 in Thursday games, 4-1-1 after failing to cover, and on turf, 3-1-1 against teams with losing records, and after allowing 170 passing yards or less, 2-5-1 in non-conference games, 3-11 after a straight up loss, and 0-3-1 after gaining 450 total yards or more.

If Alabama actually cares about being in this game after playing the BCS Championship game the last two years, then they will win this game easily. Oklahoma sometimes struggles to score against good defenses, and Alabama certainly qualifies. The Sooners also kick too many field goals in the red zone. Oklahoma’s offense hasn’t been the same since Milalrd went down with the knee injury. He did so much, especially in blocking. To be honest, the only reason Oklahoma is in this bowl is because they would sell more tickets than say Louisville. Alabama wins by double digits.

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