The Alabama Crimson Tide didn’t expect to be such heavy favorites on the All State Sugar Bowl spread because they didn’t expect to be in this game at all. But a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl sealed their fate, and now they have a chance to wipe the floor with eleventh ranked Oklahoma. This is a huge number and this game is not as easy to decipher as you might think.
Alabama’s lone loss this year came at the very end when they lost to Auburn 28-34 in a stunning upset at the last second. That game showed that the Tigers are a team of destiny to a certain extent, but it also showed that Alabama struggles against creative offenses. This defense was clearly one of the best all year as they stomped SEC teams in to the ground on a weekly basis. They averaged 11.3 points against and just 274.7 total yards allowed all season.
But against Texas A&M and Auburn, the Crimson Tide defense faltered giving up their two highest point totals of the season. Manziel dropped 42 points on Alabama while Auburn ran their way in to the hearts of the country with 34 points in the Iron Bowl. In spite of those games, Auburn’s defense never allowed anyone to score more than 17 points against them, and they held most opponents to single digit point totals, which explains why the All State Sugar Bowl spread is as high as it is.
However, it’s important to remember that as good as Alabama was this year, they weren’t as strong on the road. They went 4-1 SU and 2-3 ATS when traveling. The only teams that they beat and covered against was Virginia Tech at the very beginning of the season and lowly Kentucky.
Oklahoma was a cagey bet down the stretch and are worth considering as massive dogs on the All State Sugar Bowl spread. They had plenty of troubles adapting to injuries and keeping pace with a very competitive Big 12 conference, but ended the year by going 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS which included a huge victory over Oklahoma State in their season finale.
The Sooners and Bob Stoops have had a whole month to come up with a game plan to keep pace with Alabama. Blake Bell is a sturdy quarterback prospect who won’t jeopardize your chances of winning, but the real ace up Stoops’ sleeve is Trevor Knight, their backup quarterback. The combination of Bell and Knight is like a poor man’s version of the Chris Leak/Tim Tebow combination from Florida. Alabama lines up superbly against standard offenses, but against creative play makers and dynamic offenses they have shown some vulnerabilities. We don’t know what this Knight-Bell combo will do against Alabama’s vaunted defense, but there is reason to be legitimately excited after seeing what they did to Oklahoma State.
Add to that Oklahoma’s defense, which plays at a high tempo and allowed just 336.3 yards (14th) and 21.3 points (23rd) and you have the ingredients for a major upset here. The Crimson Tide are still well coached offensive team that always gets points, but they’re not the unstoppable force of nature they’ve been over the two years they won national titles.
This is a very jagged pill to swallow, but a good betting line is supposed to make life difficult for gamblers. There are equal sentiments that Alabama wants to make a statement in this game, while Oklahoma has all the makings of an upstart considering their offensive capabilities.
All in all I just think that the All State Sugar Bowl spread is too big for Alabama, and I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from Oklahoma towards the end of the year. You’re free to do what you want with your money as always, but Alabama is not the rock you think it is and this is going to be a much tougher win for them than the oddsmakers expect it to be.