The 2014 bowl season continues with the main event of the day for New Year’s Day, with action featuring a prime time (8:30 pm ET) game for the semifinal of the inaugural College Football Playoff. The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) of the SEC and the 4th ranked Ohio St. Buckeyes (12-1) of the Big-10 Conference in the Sugar Bowl from the Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Alabama cruised to 8 straight wins to close the regular season, including a 55-44 win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl and a 42-13 demolition of Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. Their only loss was a 23-17 week six loss at Ole Miss. Ohio St. has won 11 games in a row, and 5 of its last 6 games by double figures, including a 59-0 steamrolling of Wisconsin in the Big-10 Championship Game that vaulted them past TCU for the final spot in the inaugural CFB Playoff.
Alabama is ranked 15th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 37.1 points per game and 15th among FBS teams in total offense with 490.5 yards per contest. The Crimson Tide rank 4th nationally in points allowed with 16.6 per game and 11th in total defense 312.4 YPG allowed.
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Ohio St. is ranked 5th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 45.2 PPG scored and 8th among FBS teams in total offense with 507.6 YPG. The Buckeyes rank 21st nationally in points allowed with 21.2 per game and 15th in total defense 328.5 YPG allowed.
Alabama vs. Ohio St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Alabama Crimson Tide -9
@ Ohio St. Buckeyes +9
Over 58.5 (-110)
Under 58.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Alabama vs Ohio St. Pick
The Crimson Tide are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against Big-10 teams, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games. and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games. The Buckeyes are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games, 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning record and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points. The Over is 7-1 in the Crimson Tide’s last 8 bowl games, 12-3-1 in their last 16 neutral site games and 5-2 in their last 7 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game. The Over is 6-1 in the Buckeyes’ last 7 non-conference games, 13-3 in their last 16 games against a team with a winning record and 21-6 in their last 27 games overall.
Ohio St. is a running team under Urban Meyer, ranking 11th nationally in rushing offense on the strength of Ezekiel Elliott with 1,402 yards and quarterback J.T. Barrett with 938 yards. Barrett, the second string QB is out with a broken ankle and will be replaced by third stringer Cardale Jones who threw for 257 yards and 3 TDs against Wisconsin in his first career start.
The Crimson Tide are led by signal caller Blake Sims, who has passed for 26 TD against 7 INTs and is coming off an excellent 23-of-27 performance for 262 yards with 2 TDs and no INTs against Missouri in the SEC title game. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was a Heisman finalist, and had a huge season statistically with 115 catches for 1,656 yards and 14 TDs.
Both teams have been red-hot to close the season, but Alabama is looking to advance to the national title game for the 4th time in 6 seasons while Ohio St. has not reached the title game since losing to LSU at the end of the 2007 season. Both teams are looking to rebound from embarrassing bowl losses last season as the Crimson Tide were defeated by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and Ohio St. lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl The Crimson Tide have an experienced team that is used to playing on the big stage this time of the year, and they are facing an inexperienced QB making his second career start in Jones. Coach Nick Saban has had time to gameplan for the young QB, and the strength of the TIde defense is stopping the run, so Meyer will need to take to the air more often than he would like to with a young QB. That will be OSU’s downfall and makes Alabama a good bet ATS here. Take Alabama.