Previewing the Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Kansas State
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This is the preview for the Allstate Sugar Bowl:
Date: Saturday, December 31, 12:00 p.m. ET
Caesars Superdome (New Orleans, LA)
Betting splits: 72% of handle, 78% of bets on Alabama -7
To the surprise of most, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner and likely top overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, QB Bryce Young announced that he would play in the Sugar Bowl. Additionally, LB Will Anderson Jr. and RB Jahmyr Gibbs are also expected to play for the Crimson Tide in New Orleans. On Dec. 13, DraftKings Sportsbook had Alabama as only a three-point favorite over Kansas St. Alabama has been a nine-point favorite or more in every game this season. In the Crimson Tide’s two losses this season, Alabama closed as a nine-point favorite at Tennessee (lost 52-49) and a 13-point favorite at LSU (lost 32-31). As of December 30, Alabama is a 6.5-point favorite against Kansas St. The Crimson Tide went 5-6-1 ATS this season while the Wildcats were 9-3-1 ATS.
Kansas St. enters the Sugar Bowl riding high after defeating TCU in the Big 12 Championship. QB Will Howard has taken over the reins following Adrian Martinez’s injury. Howard has thrown 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season, and Kansas St. is 4-0 ATS when Howard starts this season. Martinez is expected to see some playing time and will add an additional run element to the game plan. In back-to-back wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech, Martinez rushed for 319 yards and seven touchdowns. RB Deuce Vaughn is 13th nationally with 1,425 rushing yards on the year. Vaughn rushed for 130 yards in the Big 12 Championship against TCU. Vaughn is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield with 42 receptions. Alabama’s rush defense is 32nd nationally allowing 125.3 yards per game. The Crimson Tide allowed 318 rush yards in their season finale against Auburn.
With Bryce Young and Jahmyr Gibbs available, the Alabama offense should not have too many issues picking yardage against Kansas St. The Wildcats finished 56th nationally in total defense while the Crimson Tide are 12th in the country in total offense averaging 475.5 yards per game. Jahmyr Gibbs accounted for 850 rushing yards, 378 receiving yards, and 10 total touchdowns. The Crimson Tide do not have the embarrassment of riches at wide receiver as they have had in recent years but Young still threw for 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions this season.
Motivation is a big factor when it comes to handicapping bowl games and there is a common belief that Alabama will be disappointed to miss out on the College Football Playoff for just the second time since the inception of the four-team tournament. The only other year the Crimson Tide missed out on the College Football Playoff was 2019. Alabama played Michigan in the Citrus Bowl and won 35-16 as 7.5-point favorites. With all the notable players expected to play for Alabama, it seems that there will be plenty of motivation on both sidelines in New Orleans.
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