The Sugar Bowl sees the big bad Alabama squad take on the surprise package in Ohio State and Neil Monnery is sensing this might not be as straightforward as the market is suggesting...
"Let me repeat that. They won 59-0 in a game they were expected to lose."
Alabama Crimson Tide (1) v Ohio State Buckeyes (4)
Friday 2 January 2015 - 01:30AM
When Alabama fans scream they say, 'Roll Tide' and that is exactly what Alabama have done ever since they brought Nick Saban in following his disappointing spell in the NFL at Miami.
The 2014 season is a tale of two halves, they started off slowly with new QB Blake Sims struggling to get to grips with the offence of Lane Kiffin. They lost at Ole Miss and the next week they squeaked out a one-point win at Arkansas. Not exactly title material. Still the following week they took apart a ranked Texas A&M team 59-0 and since then they've been looking better and better.
With Armari Cooper at WR, Sims has a weapon who'll light up end zones on Sunday's for years to come and an Offensive Line that is giving Sims time and opening up the running game for TJ Yeldon, they are a very solid unit. Sims himself has had to sit behind AJ McCarron for the keys to the Alabama offense and he has shown everyone that he was worth the wait.
Alabama though are strong defensively and the only team to drop more than 20 on them after that one defeat at Ole Miss was Auburn in that wild 55-44 game that saw the joyful return of Brent Musburger to the big stage in the TV booth. Nick Saban's team have got better as the season has gone on and are looking like a runaway freight train going into the playoffs.
Standing in Saban's way though is none other than Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes.
I'm not sure anyone had that when star QB Branton Miller went down with a season ending injury just before the start of the campaign. I think even fewer people had it when they got well and truly beaten at home to an unranked Virginia Tech team in week two. They dropped to #22 in the rankings and wouldn't return to the top four until after the final games had been played.
JT Barrett stepped in for Miller and impressed. In the gut game at Penn State, the redshirt freshman quarterback saw his team's 17 point lead evaporate and indeed saw the Nittany Lions score a touchdown to take the lead into overtime. But he wasn't to be beaten and he led his team back to win in the second period.
The thing is though Barrett won't be suiting up at the Sugar Bowl because he too is injured. Cardale Jones will be under center for this game and he has only one previous start at this level. That was the Big Ten Championship Game against #11 Wisconsin.
The exchange had the Badgers as favourites for that game but the final score was 59-0 to Ohio State. Let me repeat that. They won 59-0 in a game they were expected to lose. That is why they got the call to be the #4 team in the playoffs ahead of either Baylor or TCU.
Can lightning strike twice for Cardale Jones and Ohio State? This is your big upset folks.
Back Ohio State to win at 3.711/4