Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cram Session - Bowl Edition

Sugar Bowl

#11 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. #3 Alabama (11-1) in New Orleans, Louisiana

The biggest question entering the Sugar Bowl is just how motivated the Crimson Tide will be? Their season ended in as much of a nut punching fashion as you can think of. In the past, when not playing for a national title Bama has been caught napping in the Sugar Bowl, like when the Utah Utes dominated them. However, I don't think Nick Saban will allow Bama to not take the Sooners seriously. He will remind his players that they have a chance to enter the off-season with at least an alright taste in their mouths after the devastating loss to Bama.

Another player that can help deliver that message is Bama quarterback AJ McCarron, who will be playing his final collegiate game tonight. McCarron was the runner up for the Heisman trophy and has been a steadying presence for the Bama offense during his career. He isn't a flashy player but he has a way of avoiding any major mistakes that could hurt his team. McCarron has always had a strong run game behind him and that has been no different this season. T.J. Yeldon averages over 6 yards per carry and is at times a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry spell Yeldon at times and also make big plays when given the chance. Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood don't get a ton of publicity, but Cooper is coming off a 178 yards receiving day in the loss to Auburn.

This game will ultimately come down to whether or not the Sooners offense can get anything going against the stout Bama defense. The Sooners passing game was up and down this season but their rushing attack was consistent. Auburn was able to gouge Alabama, and the Sooners will be counting on senior Brennan Clay to help move the chains. The starting quarterback has been a position of upheaval all season for Oklahoma and coach Bob Stoops hasn't announced who will start the game between Blake Bell, Trevor Knight, and Kendal Thompson. Bell might be the guy as he was instrumental in leading the Sooners back against Oklahoma in their win that is the reason they even made the BCS. Whichever quarterback starts or plays will have big play receivers available to him in Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders.

The Sooners played their best game of the year against Oklahoma State but I also think they played over their heads. Looking at the stats up and down the board it is obvious that Alabama is a far superior team to Oklahoma. As I mentioned above, I don't believe motivation will be a problem for Alabama in this game. No matter what combination of quarterbacks the Sooners throw at them, they haven't seen anything like the Alabama defense. I think the Crimson Tide will come out fired up and jump to a big lead, and then cruise to victory.

Prediction: Alabama 30, Oklahoma 16

Overall: 113-29

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