Oklahoma Sooners vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Date and Time: Saturday, December 29, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
Opening CFB Odds: Alabama -13.5, 79
Oklahoma vs. Alabama TV Coverage: ESPN
All the credit in the world goes to Lincoln Riley and his staff for getting the Sooners back into the CFP with Baker Mayfield now in the NFL. Maybe the kudos should go out to Kyler Murray instead whose remarkable 2018 campaign ultimately led to him winning the Heisman Trophy. OU’s offense is as electric as they come, but the defense leaves a ton to be desired in a tournament with the projected best four teams in the nation battling one another for supremacy. The 27 points allowed to Texas in the Big 12 title game was the fewest conceded since the 51-14 romp over K-State at the end of October. If you take the points, you’re going to be holding your breath every Alabama possession.
Save for the 35-28 comeback win in the SEC title game, the Crimson Tide dominated every other opponent that stood in their way en route to yet another invite to college football’s version of the Final Four. Injuries likely cost Tua Tagovailoa a shot at reeling in the Heisman, but his ankle is said to be 100 percent now and that spells ultimate doom for a Sooners defense that couldn’t catch a cold in a room full of sick children in the winter. Bama already held potent offenses like Mississippi, Missouri and Georgia to 7, 10 and 28 points respectively this season. I can’t wait to see how the unit handles Murray and company in the Orange Bowl!
Player To Watch
Kyler Murray – The Sooners run game is questionable at best due to injury with both Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks doing what they can. OU’s success or failure in this matchup will ultimately hinge on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner bringing his “A” game to the field at Hard Rock Stadium. He’ll be faced with a stern test to say the least with Alabama stout against both the run ( No. 8 ) and pass ( No. 25 ). Even so, Oklahoma enters this tilt owners of the No. 11 ranked rushing attack that averages 6.7 yards per carry and 254.1 yards per game ( No. 11 ). A bulk of that output comes from Murray on QB scrambles, but that’s not something OU will be able to rely upon as well Alabama defends the field from sideline to sideline. Bama just served up over 300 passing yards and 3 TD to Georgia’s Jake Fromm, so it would behoove the Sooners to get Murray out in space and give him the time to find his pass catchers downfield. If not, Alabama is going to run away and hide in this one.
7.6 – Only the Sooners possess a better yards per play average than that of the Crimson Tide whose 7.6 YPP average checks in at No. 2 in the country. While Oklahoma will be forced to deal with the nation’s No. 10 ranked total defense and No. 4 ranked scoring defense, the Crimson Tide’s likely to have a much easier go of it running up against what’s been a laughably porous Oklahoma stop unit. Boomer Sooner concedes an average of 448.1 yards per game ( No. 108 ) and a whopping 32.4 points per game ( No. 96 ). On top of all that, the defense gives up nearly 6.0 yards per play ( No. 93 )! Needless to say, the Crimson Tide it’s going to be a spoil of riches for an Alabama team that runs one of the more balanced attack in the nation on the offensive side of the ball.
Bet the Orange Bowl at BookMaker.eu
The only reason this game wasn’t lined in the 20s is because offshore sportsbooks would’ve gotten inundated with Sooners money had they opened the betting line up that high. Even so, that’s where I had this game pegged! Alabama is leaps and bounds better than anything Oklahoma ran up against this season, and that will show almost immediately once the pigskin is put into the air. Kyler might’ve won the battle in New York a few weeks ago, but Tua and the Crimson Tide will win the war convincingly and march onto the finals a fourth straight time. I don’t expect there to be nearly the amount of points the inflated total suggests either. It’s already on its way down from 79 as I type. Bama could put a 50 burger on the board and the game could still combine for fewer than 76 points.
CFB ATS Betting Pick: Alabama -14 & Under 76 at BookMaker.eu
CFB Score Prediction: Crimson Tide 45 – Sooners 27