Sooners Have Orange Bowl Value In CFP Semifinal Vs. Alabama

alabama oklhahoma

Jason Lake

Monday, December 3, 2018 9:32 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 9:32 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Orange Bowl between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. The game from Miami Gardens, Fla. is Saturday, December 29, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama (13-0 SU, 8-5 ATS)Orange Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.Free NCAAF Pick: Sooners ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The Alabama Crimson Tide have won five National Championships (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017) for head coach Nick Saban, and 10 of their 14 bowl games during his tenure – but they’re only 8-6 ATS in them, dropping the cash in each of the past three CFP title games. The Sooners are in their second season under head coach Lincoln Riley; they lost SU and ATS to the Georgia Bulldogs in last year’s CFP semifinal, and are looking for their first national title since 2000.

How They Got Here

The Tide ran the table during the regular season, winning each game by at least three touchdowns – until they ran into Georgia at the SEC title game. QB Jalen Hurts took over for the injured Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter and led ‘Bama (–11 in Atlanta) to a 35-28 comeback victory. Oklahoma’s one loss was at the Red River Showdown in Week 6, when they fell 48-45 to the Texas Longhorns (+7), but they got their revenge, beating Texas 39-27 to win the Big 12 title as 9.5-point faves.

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Tua Tagovailoa admits in tone-deaf College Gameday segment that his dad would beat him with a belt after bad performances: https://t.co/X7bc7u914Q pic.twitter.com/P2hbsO4vFx

— Deadspin (@Deadspin) December 1, 2018
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Why Alabama Can Win/Cover

Advancing to the National Championship Game shouldn’t be too difficult for Alabama, no matter who their quarterback is. They’re the No. 1 team on the S&P+ rankings at Football Outsiders, with the No. 2 offense and the No. 8 defense. Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain against Georgia, but should be ready for Orange Bowl, according to Saban.

Whichever QB suits up (and both are likely to see action) will face the No. 89-ranked defense in the FBS. The Sooners are especially vulnerable against the pass at No. 95 overall. As a result, FiveThirtyEight project Alabama to win the Orange Bowl 71 percent of the time.

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Vegas has turned on Tua. Kyler Murray now the Heisman favorite per @BovadaOfficial pic.twitter.com/LZ7N0G0Tyj

— Alex Schiffer (@TheSchiffMan) December 3, 2018
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Why Oklahoma Can Win/Cover

It seemed inevitable that Tagovailoa was going to win the Heisman Trophy this year, but Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray kept pace during the regular season, and likely passed Tagovailoa on Saturday. Murray and the Sooners have the best offense in the nation, and they have a significant edge in special teams, where the Tide are definitely lacking at No. 93 on the S&P+ charts.

As for that 71 percent projection, that only works out to around Alabama –7.5 for a vig-free point spread. And if Tagovailoa doesn’t heal quickly enough, that will only make life easier for the Sooners – although the betting public might ease off the Tide a bit if Hurts gets the nod instead.

Common Opponent/Series History

These two teams didn’t share a common opponent in 2018. They’ve faced each other just three times overall, with Oklahoma winning all three at 1-2 ATS; their only meeting during the Saban Era was at the 2014 Sugar Bowl, which the Sooners won 45-31 as 17-point underdogs.

Final Verdict

This is an excellent matchup for Alabama on paper, but from a betting perspective, all the value is with the Sooners. The Tagovailoa injury is likely to be overlooked by casual bettors, who have a history of dumping way too much money on the Tide during these high-profile games. And PK Austin Seibert (15-for-17 on figgies, 83-for-84 on PATs) hasn’t missed very many kicks this year. That leaves more than enough wiggle room for Oklahoma to cover – especially if they get to +14.5 or beyond by kickoff.

Read Our Orange Bowl Trends & Betting History Story
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