Bama's Game Plan Vs. Oklahoma Will Keep Orange Bowl 'Under'

Wednesday, December 26, 2018 4:36 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018 4:36 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Orange Bowl between Alabama and Oklahoma. The game from Miami Gardens is at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 29 on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from

<h2 style="text-align:center;"><a href="" title="Live Game Odds">Orange Bowl: Oklahoma (12-1 SU, 5-7-1 ATS, 10-2-1 O/U)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center;"><a href="" title="Live Game Odds">vs. Alabama (13-0 SU, 8-5 ATS, 9-4 O/U)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center;">Saturday, December 29, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)</h2><h2 style="text-align:center;">Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens</h2><h2 style="text-align:center;">Free NCAAF Pick: Under</h2><h2 style="text-align:center;">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=5dimes" rel="nofollow" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">5Dimes</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3690815, "sportsbooksIds":[19,1096,180,139,1602], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>Alabama returns to the college football playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. The Tide has covered its past three semifinal games <a href="" title="Live NCAAF Odds Board">with the "under" hitting in each</a>. Oklahoma returns to the semis after losing a double-overtime thriller to Georgia. For Oklahoma, three starting defensive backs (Jordan Parker, Justin Broiles, and Kahlil Haughton) may still not be ready to return from injury. They’re listed as "questionable," as is leading wide receiver Marquise Brown. For Alabama, Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa expects to be fully fit after ankle surgery. Bama’s starting left guard was suspended, but his backup is a very experienced former four-star recruit and there won't be noticeable drop-off.</p><p> </p><h2>How They Got Here</h2><p>Despite having the 17th-hardest schedule based on S&amp;P+, Bama won its first 12 games by at least three touchdowns. In the SEC title game, Bama came from behind with backup quarterback Jalen Hurts to beat Georgia 35-28. The Sooners' schedule ranked 51 spots lower. They escaped Army in overtime, scraped by Oklahoma State at home, and lost to Texas at home. They avenged Texas in the Big 12 Championship and barely earned the opportunity to face Alabama.</p><p>[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]</p><h2>Why Oklahoma Can Win/Cover</h2><p>Some of Alabama’s later opponents have uncovered tactics that made Alabama look beatable. Mississippi State repeatedly put Tua under pressure, sacking him four times and keeping Alabama’s offense from finding a rhythm. Bama covered that game only because it shut out Miss State. Georgia likewise pressured and roughed up Tua even though its defensive line’s sack rate had been poor. If Oklahoma can hold Alabama to fewer than 40 points, its offense can score enough. The Sooners have Heisman winner Kyler Murray. Murray has completed 70% of his passes for 4,053 yards, 11.9 YPA, and 40 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He’s also a threat with his legs, and mobile quarterbacks from Johnny Manziel to Deshaun Watson have historically given Alabama difficulties. This season, Texas A&amp;M quarterback Kellen Mond accrued a season-high 98 yards rushing. OU has scored at least 45 points in all four games when Murray rushed for more than 90 yards.</p><p>[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]</p><h2>Why Alabama Can Win/Cover</h2><p>Tua will be motivated to show that he should have won the Heisman. With him, Alabama’s offense can score rapidly. It ranks second in IsoPPP+, which measures explosiveness. On the flip side, Oklahoma’s defense ranks 102nd in total defense and 101st in opposing passer rating. OU struggled even with Big 12 bottom-feeders. For instance, Kansas scored 40 points and running back Pooka Williams ran for 252 yards, 89 more than against any other opponent. Tua has sundry big-play receivers at his disposal, four of whom plus a tight end average more than 17 yards per catch. He’s supported by three different running backs who average more than 5 YPC. Bama is capable of scoring 50+. A higher-scoring game makes a bigger spread look less intimidating. Bama’s highly-ranked defense, by far the toughest that OU will have faced this season based on total defense, opposing YPC, opposing passer rating, etc., may only need a couple stops to secure the cover. OU is 1-5 ATS when scoring fewer than 50 points.</p><p> </p><h2>Common Opponents/Series History</h2><p>Both OU and Bama faced an option team. Army accrued 44 minutes of time of possession to keep OU’s prolific offense on the sidelines and from finding a rhythm. The game was tied 21-21 after regulation and OU survived in overtime. Against The Citadel, Bama failed for the first time all season to lead after halftime. Bama responded by winning the second-half 40-7.</p><p> </p><h2>The Verdict</h2><p>Oklahoma wants a shootout, Big-12 style, and Alabama knows that. Bama can follow Army’s game plan and keep Kyler Murray off the field. Oklahoma’s defense is soft and struggled against Army’s physical offensive line. Bama’s O-line is likewise highly-ranked in run blocking and can help sustain drives, ranking seventh in short-yardage situations. Damien Harris leads Bama running backs with 771 yards on 6.1 YPC despite facing formidable front sevens in the SEC such as LSU’s and Georgia’s. He and Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs will have an even easier time against Oklahoma’s 45th-ranked defense in opposing YPC despite being in the pass-happy Big 12 where only Oklahoma ranks top-50 in rushing offense.</p><p>On defense, <a href="" title="Free NCAAF Picks">Alabama can keep OU one-dimensional</a> with its top-10 run defense. Bama’s run defense faced three of the SEC’s top five running backs, all 1,000-yard runners. Texas A&amp;M’s Trayveon Williams mustered only 31 rushing yards on 3.9 YPC, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift produced 75 yards on 4.7 YPC, and Missouri’s Larry Rountree accrued 48 yards on 2.8 YPC. OU’s lowest point totals came when Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon were held to less than 100 yards.</p><h2 style="text-align:center;"><a href="">Read SBR's Orange Bowl Preview</a></h2>
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