The No. 1 seed and nine-point favorite Alabama Crimson Tide lead by Nick Saban with gut it out with the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes lead by Urban Meyer in the coveted Sugar Bowl. Both teams are 12-1 with only a win away from clinching a spot in the national championship title game.
Alabama has won eight straight games and are playing in their 11th straight bowl, while Ohio State has won 11 straight games and are playing in their 14th bowl in the last 15 years.
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes vs No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Date: Jan. 01, 2015
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
TV Info: ESPN
Stream Info: WatchESPN.com
Radio: Ohio State vs Alabama
Point Spread: Crimson Tide -9
Game Total: 56.5
— Twitter (@twitter) December 29, 2014
Analyzing My Ohio State vs Alabama Sugar Bowl Betting Spread Pick
Head coaches Saban and Meyer are arguably considered the top two college football minds in the game today. Saban’s Crimson Tide are a solid 9 point favorite over Meyer’s Buckeyes for New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl.
Alabama will win the Sugar Bowl if
They can rattle Cardale Jones and force the Buckeyes offense to turn the ball over!
The Alabama Crimson Tide have a pretty simple mission if they want to win the 2015 Sugar Bowl and advance to the national championship.
All Alabama has to do is rattle Ohio State Buckeyes red-shirt sophomore signal-caller Cardale Jones and force the athletically-gifted, but very inexperienced quarterback into a couple of costly turnovers.
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 29, 2014
While Jones looked phenomenal in his helping the Buckeyes lay an emphatic 59-0 smackdown in his first career start against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 6, going up against the defensive-minded Tide figures to be an entirely different story all together.
Alabama ranked 11th in total defense (312.1 ypg) and second against the run (88.4 ypg) though the Tide did rank just 60th against the pass (223.7 ypg). No matter, Alabama still managed to routinely shut down its opponents and gave up just 16.6 points per game to rank fourth in the nation in points allowed. Alabama has held every opponent except Auburn to 23 points or less.
While Ohio State ranks fourth in the country in scoring (45.2 ppg) and has scored at least 31 points in 12 of their 13 games, they’re likely to face their stiffest test of the season against Nick Saban’s perennially powerful program.
Ohio State will win the Sugar Bowl if
They stop the run, slow down Amari Cooper and win the turnover battle!
It’s nice an all that the Buckeyes can score the ball with the best teams in the country. However, if they want to win the 2015 Sugar Bowl and advance in the first-ever NCAA playoff, then they’re going to have to find a way to slow down elite wide receiver Amari Cooper while simultaneously putting the clamps on the Crimson Tide’s powerful rushing attack.
Amari Cooper's record-setting season. pic.twitter.com/BcrvHPXOzO
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 14, 2014
Cooper is arguably the best wide receiver in the nation and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting after racking up a jaw-dropping 115 catches for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Buckeyes defense will also need to find a way to slow down running backs, T.J. Yeldon (932 yards) and Derrick Henry (895 yards), two players that have scored an identical 10 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Last but not least, the Buckeyes also need to keep an eye on blossoming quarterback Blake Sims with the senior improving with each passing week. The dual threat signal-caller rushed for a modest 294 yards and six touchdowns but also completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,236 yards with 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Sims enters this matchup on fire after completing a blistering 23-of-27 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns and no picks to lead the Crimson Tide to an emphatic 42-13 win over Missouri in the SEC title game on Dec. 6..
“This is really kind of a new season for us, a new opportunity," said Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose team held Missouri to 41 rushing yards on 23 carries last week. "What does everybody want the legacy of this team to be?"
Who will win the Sugar Bowl?
I’m no fan of the front-running Crimson Tide or their arrogant head coach, but I’ve got to call it like I see it and no matter how hoard I try to look through some rose-colored glasses in an attempt to find a way the Buckeyes can win this game, I can’t find a single reason to actually believe they will.
— Allstate Sugar Bowl (@SugarBowlNola) December 9, 2014
Ohio State is 6-2 ATS in their last eight non-conference games and -2 ATS in their L/7 games against teams with a wining record. Alabama however, is a perfect 4-0 ATS in their last quartet of contests against Big Ten teams and a near-perfect 4-1 ATS in their L/5 bowl games. 54 percent of the betting public like the Buckeyes to cover the nearly double-digit point spread, but I don’t!
Alabama wins and narrowly cover the Sugar Bowl betting line!