Matchup: #4 Ohio State vs. #1 Alabama (-8.5, 58.5)
Date/Time: Thursday, January 1st @ 8:30 PM (EST)
Location: New Orleans, LA (Airing on ESPN)
Preview: The SEC champion Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Big Ten Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl to decide the final participant in the national championship game.
The Alabama Crimson Tide come into Thursday night’s matchup at 11-1 and coming off a 42-13 win in the SEC championship game over Missouri. They have won 8 straight after losing their only game of the season against Ole Miss in Oxford. The resume of Alabama is impressive, with victories over Missouri, Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi State. They are very balanced on offense averaging 209 yards rushing and 281 yards passing per game. Their main weapon is wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has 1656 yards receiving. The defense is dominant to no ones surprise, allowing 4.68 yards per play and ranking 10th in the nation in total defense.
Ohio State is coming off of a dominant 59-0 Big Ten championship win over Wisconsin. 3rd string quarterback Cardale Jones led the way as Ohio State was completely dominant in every facet of the game. The only blemish on their record was an early season loss to Virginia Tech. That was quarterback J.T. Barrett’s second start, and had not had a full grasp of the offense. The rest of the season was smooth sailing (for the most part) including a very impressive win over Michigan State in East Lansing. Barrett was hurt in the final game of the season, and third stringer Cardale Jones took the reigns and led the team over Wisconsin. The Buckeyes have a lot of team speed, and are running the ball with success averaging 260.8 yards per game on the ground. The defense is pretty underrated, ranked 15th in the nation allowing 4.79 yards per play and 328 yards per game.
I’m recommending a play on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Thursday night. They’re in a dome and on a fast track, which is a slight advantage for the Buckeyes who are the faster team in my opinion. Nick Saban with weeks to prepare always puts forth a solid game plan, but let’s not underestimate Urban Meyer, who is a heck of a coach in his own right with a few national championships on his resume. I think Ohio State can match Alabama physically in the trenches, and the abilities of Cardale Jones are pretty obvious, the kid can play. Keep in mind he was neck and neck with J.T. Barrett in the spring, and has a very live arm. As much as I respect Saban and the Alabama program, this is just too many points to give a very talented squad led by Meyer.
2015 Sugar Bowl Pick: Ohio State +8.5, Under 58.5
2015 Sugar Bowl Score Prediction: Alabama 31 – Ohio State 27