Sugar Bowl Picks: Side & Total Preview

Jeff Grant

Thursday, December 26, 2013 1:23 PM GMT

The Alabama Crimson Tide own the Sugar Bowl record with eight wins in the game, as they prepare to face off against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Let’s take a closer look at the college football betting lines for this SEC/Big 12 Conference matchup on Thursday, Jan. 2, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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A potential letdown

Alabama may struggle to find the necessary motivation to cover this double-digit point spread, consider its goal every year is to land in the BCS Championship Game, but those hopes were dashed by suffering a 34-28 defeat to the Auburn Tigers as 10-point road favorites Nov. 30.

The Crimson Tide landed in a similar spot at the conclusion of their 2008 regular season, as they dropped a decision to the Florida Gators in the SEC title game, which led to a 31-17 defeat to the Utah Utes in this same location.

It’s important to point out that the program is 3-11 ATS in its last 14 games following a SU loss.

Heavyweight matchup

Oklahoma finished out the regular season with a 3-0 SU/ATS record in its final three games, including a 33-24 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys as 10-point road underdogs on Dec. 7.

No college football game has ever featured two teams that own more all-time combined bowl victories, as the Crimson Tide have proven victorious 35 times and the Sooners have captured 27 games in that situation.

There’s no doubt that the program will be motivated for this affair, but it has failed to cover the number in its last seven opportunities against SEC foes.

Running the football and playing defense

The Crimson Tide have relied on their defense and running game to enjoy unmatched success nationally under head coach Nick Saban, as they’ve gone 42-1 SU with quarterback AJ McCarron under center when running for at least 125 yards.

Alabama had allowed just 81 touchdowns entering its regular-season finale against Auburn—a statistic that led the country by 41 scores over that span.

A major improvement

The Sooners are certainly capable of staying within this number, as they finished behind just 13 other programs in allowing 336.3 yards per game.  

Oklahoma’s stop unit was one of the worst a season ago, as it allowed more than 480 yards per game over its final seven contests.

Also make sure to check out our:

College Football Picks: Top Bowl Season Betting Plays

Sugar Bowl Picks: Oklahoma vs. Alabama

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Sooners for their college football picks, as the Crimson Tide have failed to cover the number in their last two opportunities following a loss to a conference rival.

Total players should look to play the UNDER, as Alabama has fallen short of the betting total in 34 of its last 48 games as favorites of 10.5 to 21 points.