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Blog

Alabama vs. Ohio State (Sugar Bowl Preview)

by Jeff Allen of Jeff Allen Sports

Thursday, January 1, 2015 (8:30 PM EST)

Vegas Line at this writing: Alabama -9 (58.5)

Alabama: The Crimson Tide had something to prove this year after last year’s Iron Bowl debacle with Auburn and
then no-showing against Oklahoma in last year’s Sugar. The big question mark was what the Tide would do at QB
with A.J. McCarron moving on to reality TV. No A.J., no problem … as fifth year senior Blake Sims stepped in and had
a big year setting the school record for yardage (3250) while tossing 26 touchdowns against just 7 picks. Sims has
all kinds of weapons in the backfield with the two headed dragon of Yeldon (932,10) and Henry (895,10) while wide
out Amari Cooper (116 catches, 14 TDs) was a Heisman finalist. Even with all this fire power, Bama has had lapese
including getting shut out in the second half of the loss to Ole Miss and failing to move the ball with any consistency
against greatly improved Arkansas. Saban was able to come up with another staunch stop unit that allowed slightly
better than 16 ppg. The Tide defense features linebackers that fly to the ball and get the majority of stops but the secondary
is pedestrian at best and subject to being victimized by intermediate and deepĀ  passing game. As good as the Saban
teams have been in recent years, he has still not been able to recruit a quality kicker and it will be Russian Roulette at
best if the Buckeyes can keep this close.

Ohio State: You can’t say enough about the job that Urban Meyer has done since coming to Columbus. He’s 36-3 in his
three year tenure and he’s done it recruiting like the Buckeyes are an SEC team, locking up speed and athleticism as
opposed to big plodding rust belt prospects. The results have been dramatic and after early Heisman candidate went down
in a Game Two loss to Virginia Tech, OSU has won 11 straight, nine of their L10 by double-digits. J.T. Barrett (3772 all purpose
yards, 45 TDs) did most of the damage for the Bucks after taking over for Braxton Miller in game one. When Barrett went down
in the Michigan game it was simply a question of next man up as big armed Cardale Jone stepped in and threw for 259 yards
in the Buckeyes 59-0 demolition of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Ezekial Elliot (1402, 6.5, 12) can carry the
mail and twin wide outs Devin Smith (799,11) and Michael Thomas (680,8) are deep threat and possession guys respectively.
The Ohio State defense doesn’t have the gaudy numbers as much of the yardage and points against came in garbage time.
The OSU stop unit did have 40 sacks and 21 picks and was led by LB Joshua Perry (115 tackles) and Big Ten Defensive Player
of the Year Joey Bosa and his 13.5 sacks. Alabama outscored their opponents 295-109 in the first half. Ohio State will have to
minimize the Tide’s initial punch in the mouth and give itself a chance to win late.

Allen’s Angles

More No.1s have played in the Sugar Bowl than in any other Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is the second oldest Bowl after the Rose Bowl
The teams have met three times with Alabama winning all three times
Saban is 2-1 SU and ATS vs Urban Meyer all time

Alabama is 4-9 the L3 years in non-conference play, 0-3 this year
The Tide is 6-2 ATS in its l8 vs. The Big 1
The Over is 6-1 L3 years when Tide is on a neutral field, 4-0 high in domes
This Alabama’s record 14th Sugar Bowl appearance, they have a record eight Sugar Bowl wins
Bama punter Scott was all SEC with a 43.2 yard net.

Ohio State is 1-8 ATS in their L9 games against the SEC
The Over is 5-1 the L3 years when the Buckeyes have extra time, 3-0 high side on neutral fields and 2-0 Over in Domes
The Under is 13-7 in Ohio State’s 20 bowls
Meyer is 7-2 SU and ATS in his Bowl career and 13-0 in his L13 as a dog back to final year at Florida
Buckeye PK Neurenberger was just 5-10 from 40+ yards

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