Nick Saban's offense is hoping to find success against an Oklahoma defense that ranks among the nation's best in 2013.
One of the more intriguing storylines in Alabama’s upcoming matchup against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl will feature a potent Tide offense going against a stout Sooners defense.
Nick Saban’s offensive attack averaged nearly 450 yards of total offense this season and scored nearly 39 points per game. Meanwhile, Bob Stoops’ troops led the Big 12 in total defense, allowing just 336 yards per contest. That figure that placed them 14th nationally in that category, according to cfbstats.com.
The Sooners will present a stiff test, but there are four reasons why the Tide offense will move the ball and put up points when the two teams collide on Thursday night.
The main staple of Nick Saban’s offensive teams is their ability to achieve balance and equal potency on the ground and through the air.
This year has been no different, with Alabama averaging 212 yards rushing per game and nearly 237 yards passing. The play-calling reflects that production, with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier dialing up an average of 35 rushing attempts and 28 pass attempts per game.
Quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper are among the nation’s best at their respective positions. There’s also plenty of depth at running back and receiver, which gives Alabama more than enough weapons to keep the Sooners defense on its heels.
While Oklahoma’s defense has put up strong numbers, it has struggled in the red zone.
The Sooners have allowed opponents to drive into the red zone 31 times this season. Points resulted in 28 of those attempts (19 touchdowns and nine field goals), which places the Sooners 116th nationally in that category, according to cfbstats.com.
Meanwhile, Alabama has converted on 41 of its 50 red-zone trips, with 34 of them ending in touchdowns.
If Alabama can continue that trend, the offense will be in a good position to put up a point total that resembles its season average of nearly 39 points per game.
A closer look at the Sooners’ body of work reveals their struggles against teams with potent offenses.
Against the four opponents who ranked among the nation’s top 60 in total offense, the Sooners gave up an average of 441 yards and nearly 33 points per game.
Coincidentally, those numbers align favorably with the Tide’s averages (449 yards of total offense, 39 points per game) this season.
A big key in this matchup will be the war up front between the Tide offensive line and the Sooners defensive line. If that battle trends in favor of Alabama, it’s likely to result in another strong outing for the Tide offense.
Nick Saban’s defense gets a lot of the credit for the team’s recent success in bowl games, but the offense has produced strong numbers over the last four bowl victories.
The Tide have averaged 430 yards of total offense and 37 points per game, with three of those wins coming against teams that ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense.
With this game representing the final outing for decorated seniors such as McCarron, expect the Tide to come out firing early and deliver one of their strongest performances of the season against the Sooners.