An improbable matchup for the Sugar Bowl just may turn out to be the best showdown of the college postseason, as the Oklahoma Sooners face two-time defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tide were laying -15.5 in early Sugar Bowl betting. The Sooners won and covered their last three games, including two as a road underdog, but Bama has won and covered its last four bowls
Sugar Bowl Point spread: Crimson Tide opened as 16-point favorites; the total was 51. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 39.2-23.6 Crimson Tide
Why Alabama can cover the spread
Alabama, which is on a 14-6 ATS run when laying points away from Tuscaloosa, might come in disappointed in this one, as it would much rather be playing in the BCS title game, but that doesn't mean it will ignore this game. Its defense ranked fifth in the nation, allowing 274.7 yards per game and recorded three shutouts this season.
Seven of Alabama's 12 foes could only muster single-digit scoring, while its scoring defense ranked second in the nation in allowing 11.3 points per game. Recent history shows Alabama covering bowl game spreads and covering as double-digit chalk.
With Nick Saban staying put, it's also one less distraction.
Why Oklahoma can cover the spread
Resilience might be the best way to describe how this team can stay in the game. After all, there isn’t too many who believed the Sooners (10-2) would recover mentally after getting blown out by Baylor last month.
But impressive road wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State pushed the Sooners into their first BCS bowl since 2010. The Sooners have a stellar defensive unit that ranked 13th in the nation in allowing just 336.3 yards per game.
Oklahoma held half its opponents to 20 points or less this season. The Sooners can also surprise you on special teams.
Bama won easily in most of its games, but it opened the season failing to cover three of its first five and then closed the season losing two of its last three at the window. It's not safe to play against the Tide either.
While the UNDER looks enticing based on the Sugar Bowl betting history, the OVER is the smart play as the oddsmakers believe the betting public will focus too heavily on the strengths of these defensive units.
These two teams also like to score points in droves and knowing the way to the winner's circle is by exploiting weaknesses, we'll see both open up offensively and find their way over the posted number.
- UNDER is 7-3 past 10 Sugar Bowls
- Alabama covered spread in five straight post-season games
- Sooners defeated Bama in 2002-2003, only recent meetings
- UNDER is 7-2-1 past 10 Sooner games as underdog
- Alabama is 5-1 ATS when favored by two TDs or more