Well, we get the dreaded Sugar Bowl after barely missing out on playing for the National Title. In 2008, Alabama lost to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship and wound up playing Utah in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide was flat, unfocused, and it didn’t go well.
In 2013, the undefeated Tide lost stupidly to Auburn and fell out of title contention, playing Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Again, it didn’t go well. The offensive line pretty much took the day off as A.J. McCarron got sacked what felt like 15 times by a guy that barely got drafted and Alabama’s OC pretty much got fired for not letting Derrick Henry run the ball.
The next time Alabama got left out, in 2019, it was in the Capital One Bowl, where the Tide tends to obliterate their opponent.
This time, they get Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. The Wildcats are 10-3 on the year, with an overtime Big 12 championship rematch win over TCU. Their three losses on the season are to TCU, Texas, and Tulane. That said, they’ve had one of the toughest schedules in the nation, with four games against top-10 teams (Oklahoma, TCU twice, and Oklahoma State). Of course, the two Oklahoma schools have since dropped out of the rankings altogether.
The Wildcats feature one of the nation’s better defenses, only allowing 20 points per game. They’ve thrown two shutouts and held two more opponents to under 10 points with only field goals. They also obliterated their SEC opponent, Missouri, and held them without a touchdown as well.
On the other hand, they’ve given up over 30 points four different times, so their defense can be beaten.
Offensively, they had some duds early in the season before grad transfer QB Adrian Martinez was replaced by Will Howard. Since Howard took over, he’s thrown 15 TDs to only 2 interceptions at nearly 9 yards per attempt, and their scoring consistency increased. RB Deuce Vaughn is the real backbone of the offense though, with 1800 all purpose yards and 5.8 yards per touch.
With uncertainty around the roster, Alabama opens as a 5.5 point favorite according to DraftKings’ opening odds.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
I imagine the line will swing one way or another later in the month as we hear whether or not superstars like Bryce Young and Will Anderson decide to play.
And also, do we get vengeful Bama (like in 2010 and 2019) or disappointed Bama (2008 and 2014). Trend-wise, this game is a Sugar Bowl like the other two bad games. On the other hand, 2010 and 2019 were the Tide’s only other multi-loss regular seasons like this one, so they may fall more into that category.
We’ll get deeper into matchup breakdowns as the game gets closer. For now, you can relax and/or be disappointed as the Tide is now finally, officially, out of the title race.