It’s no surprise that the Alabama Crimson Tide will playing in a BCS bowl once again, but the fact that they aren’t playing for the national title after ranking No. 1 in the nation for the first 14 weeks of the season is quite shocking. It will be interesting to see how inspired they are to play for a Sugar Bowl victory.
On the other side of the field, the Oklahoma Sooners got hot at the right time by beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the final game of the season on the road to sneak into BCS bowl consideration. With a 10-2 record, the Sooners look like a serious contender to be the second team to knock off Alabama this season.
While they aren’t playing for a national title like they would have hoped, the Crimson Tide look to be one of the top-three teams in the nation because of the leadership that senior quarterback AJ McCarron possesses. The veteran quarterback has passed for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns and his one loss might have costed him a spot as a finalist for the Heisman. Sophomore wide out Amari Cooper has finally broken out like the Tide would have hoped for earlier in the year, leading the team in receiving with 36 catches for 615 yards and four scores. T.J. Yeldon leads the 21st-ranked rush offense with 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Oklahoma may have barely snuck into the BCS bowl rankings after a huge late-season win against a huge rival, but it has shown that it can win big games when they count. Blake Bell took over for freshman Trevor Knight earlier in the season at quarterback and hasn’t looked back, passing for 1,648 yards and just 12 touchdowns but his leadership has been noticed by his teammates. Brennan Clay has been a big reason why this team has been so success as well, rushing for 913 yards and six touchdowns while leading the 18th-best rushing offense in college football.
Defensively, the Sooners are known for having a tough, lock-down unit. Oklahoma ranks 23rd in points allowed per game while also ranking 12th in yards allowed per game. Alabama, on the same page, ranks second in the nation in points allowed per game as well as fifth in yards allowed per game.
Oklahoma and Alabama will face off for the 2014 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La., at 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 2. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 14, Alabama 30
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure to purchase your Sugar Bowl tickets for Oklahoma vs. Alabama now before inventory isn’t available. Tickets begin for well under $200.