The 2018 NCAA College Football Bowl Season is in full swing during the final week of the 2018 calendar year including featuring the two key playoff bowl matchups. The first one features the Notre Dame Fighting Irish taking on the Clemson Tigers in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl while the second matchup features the Oklahoma Sooners taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Both of these matchup’s feature double digit underdogs. For us though the matchup to take advantage of features the Sooners and Crimson Tide.
As you look at this matchup on paper it will be hard for many sports handicappers to pass on the Sooners as two touchdown underdog even against a very good Crimson Tide team. As the Sooners have struggled at times on the defensive side of the football, their offense ranks 1st in total yards per game (578), passing ranks 7th in total yards per game (324), 11th in rushing yards per game (253.9) and 1st in points per game (49.5). While it could be difficult for the Sooners to win, this contest should be close till the final whistle.
While the big question entering this contest will be whether or not the Crimson Tide’s defense can slow down Kyle Murray. The bigger concern is whether or not the Crimson Tide will have a healthy Tua Tagovailoa or if they will be running an offense that will also feature Jalen Hurts. In their key 35-28 win over the Georgia Bulldogs, Hurts looked solid in leading the team to victory throwing for 82 yards while completing seven of nine passes including a touchdown. Hurts also added 28 yards on the ground and a key rushing touchdown.
Here are the keys to the game for both the Oklahoma Sooners and Alabama Crimson Tide matchup on Saturday December 29th 2018, 8pm ET at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Florida.
For the Sooners this will be there 52nd bowl in school history while posting a 29-21-1 record over that stretch. This will be their first appearance in one of the College Football playoff bowl series matchups.
Alabama Crimson Tide
For the Crimson Tide this will be there 69th bowl game in school history and most in College Football. This will be their fourth straight appearance in the College Football playoff bowl series. Overall the Crimson Tide is 40-25-3 in their bowl appearances.
NCAA Keys to the Game
Oklahoma Sooners – Come out Blitzing
The Sooners have the offense to compete with any team in college football and that will be on display on Saturday Night against the Crimson Tide. For them to have success early, the team will need to put on the pressure early while aggressively blitzing Tagovailoa forcing him to move around while making him test his injured ankle. While Hurts was effective after Tagovailoa was forced out against the Georgia Bulldogs, knocking Tagovailoa out early could alter the Crimson Tide’s complete game plan. The ability to blitz early could also force the Crimson Tide quarterback to rush opening up chances for him to make mistakes while avoiding contact.
Alabama Crimson Tide – Capitalize on Turnovers & Special Teams
The Crimson Tide enter this contest as one of the most dangerous teams in all of college football. While they will need their offense to play mistake free football and their defense to slow down Kyle Murray, their success in this contest will revolve around their ability to capitalize after forcing turnovers and making the big play on special teams in a contest that could become a shootout early and often. In years past we have seen the Crimson Tide make both big plays off of turnovers as well as key returns on special teams to help them secure victories against other very good teams.
NCAA Betting Trends
Oklahoma Sooners - The Sooners enter this contest as an interesting pick despite the team posting a 5-8 record against the spread this season as well as a 1-3 record against the spread on the road. Along with those struggles the Sooners have struggled on neutral sites covering the spread in just three of their last 12 contests. Despite those struggles the team has dominated against the SEC over their last five matchups covering the spread in four of those contests.
Alabama Crimson Tide – As the Crimson Tide continues to roll along this season they have rewarded sports handicappers with an 8-5 record against the spread this season while rolling to a 13-0 overall record. The Crimson Tide has also played well on the road covering the spread in four of their six road contests. Along with that success the team has also covered the spread in four of their last five contests against teams with a winning record.