The No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0) will take on the No. 4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) in the 2018 Orange Bowl. This is the second leg of the playoff double-header set for Saturday, December 29th. The game is set for 8:00 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL and will be televised on ESPN.
Oddsmakers opened up this game at Alabama -14 and that’s where the line still sits today. The total for this matchup opened near 80, but it’s currently between 76-77 depending on where you shop.
Orange Bowl Vegas Odds Preview: Oklahoma vs Alabama
There was plenty of debate on whether Oklahoma deserved to be the final team added to the playoffs over the likes of Georgia and Ohio State, but the Sooners got the nod. Now they have to show that their Big 12 title was no joke. Maybe the most amazing thing with Oklahoma this year is they managed to replace one Heisman winner at quarterback with another. Last year Baker Mayfield won the award and this year it was Kyler Murray.
This will be the third time in the last 4 years that Oklahoma has qualified for the playoffs. In 2015 they lost 37-17 to Clemson as a 3-point favorite. After missing out in 2016, they returned with a much better effort against Georgia in the Rose Bowl, but would ultimately lose 54-48 in double-overtime (led 31-17 at half).
As for Alabama, all the Crimson Tide are trying to do is when back-to-back National Championships and secure their 6th title in the last 10 years. Alabama cruised to a perfect 12-0 record in the regular-season, but had to rally from a 14-point 2nd half deficit to stun Georgia in the SEC title game. A game where the script from last year’s title game was flipped. Jalen Hurts, who was replaced by Tua Tagovailoa in the title game, came off the bench in place of an injured Tagovailoa to guide the Tide back from that 2nd half deficit against the Bulldogs.
Alabama has remarkably been to the college football playoffs in every year since the new format was adopted and are an impressive 10-4 in bowl games under head coach Nick Saban.
Orange Bowl Free Pick & Betting Predictions: OVER 76
As much as I want to take the two touchdowns with Oklahoma, I just don’t trust the Sooners defense enough to play them. I think the best play for this game is to roll the dice on the OVER. I know this total is really high and more times than not big games are lower-scoring, but I just think the talent we have on the offensive side of the ball is going to have both teams scoring early and often.
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With a healthy Tagovailoa at quarterback, this Oklahoma defense has zero shot of slowing down the Alabama offense. This is arguably the best offense we have seen the Crimson Tide field since Saban arrived and if you wanted the Sooners defense you know it’s not very good. Oklahoma allowed 32.4 ppg and were awful against the pass, giving up 8.2 yards/attempt. Tagovailoa was second only to Kyler Murray at 11.4 yards/attempt this year.
I think we are going to see Tua absolutely shred this Sooners defense. I also think that while Tagovailoa hasn’t made a big deal about Murray winning the Heisman over him, he’s going to come out with something to prove here. I was actually shocked that Murray won, as I think he’s more a product of the system at Oklahoma and really benefited from playing so many bad defenses in the Big 12.
The key here is that as good as Alabama’s defense is, I’m confident that the Sooners are going to be able to score. Head coach Lincoln Riley is the best offensive mind in college football right now. I also think you have to look at what Oklahoma was able to do in last year’s playoff game against an elite Georgia defense.
Keep in mind that with how easy it figures to be for the Crimson Tide to score, Oklahoma’s offense is going to get plenty of opportunities to score and they know they have to take shots and put points on the board to have any shot of winning this game. I just have a hard time seeing either team scoring fewer than 30 points and if I had to take a guess at the score, I would say like 48-35 and the potential for even more. Give me the OVER 76.