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Staff Picks: Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Oklahoma

Staff Picks: Alabama vs. Oklahoma

NEW ORLEANS | Check out this week's staff picks and breakdown for Alabama's tilt with Oklahoma. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT at the Mercedez Benz Superdome.


ANDREW CARROLL

Alabama 31, Oklahoma 24

Despite a devastating loss to Auburn, Alabama's seniors can still go out with a win. And if there is a lesson to be learned from the last game it's that lapses in concentration can be costly. Alabama should win if it doesn't lose its focus.




CECIL HURT

Alabama 27, Oklahoma 17

If Alabama were playing a BCS buster, I would be tempted to predict an upset based on pure apathy. Drawing Oklahoma was a break in terms of motivation. And, honestly, the Sooners are a better opponent than Notre Dame was last year. So Alabama should win, but not in a blowout.




DAMIEN MARTIN

Alabama 31, Oklahoma 14

I'm not sure the Sooners are going to be able to get effective quarterback play out of whoever they send out. Alabama's seniors will be highly motivated to finish their careers with a win after the bitterness of the Iron Bowl loss.




MICHAEL SOUTHERN

Alabama 42, Oklahoma 17

Despite the disappointment from being knocked out of the national championship race, Alabama will not suffer a hangover against Oklahoma. The leadership of AJ McCarron and C.J. Mosley won't allow the Crimson Tide to stumble against the outmatched Sooners.




D.C. REEVES

Alabama 34, Oklahoma 14

There is one question to ponder: Will Alabama be mentally ready following the devastating Iron Bowl loss? With AJ McCarron and C.J. Mosley manning each side of the ball, the Crimson Tide avoid a Utah-esque Sugar Bowl repeat and roll past the Sooners.




EDWIN STANTON

Alabama 42, Oklahoma 14

One second and a 100-yard touchdown run wiped out Alabama's national championship aspirations. If you are Alabama, that has to be as irritating as one of those scratches in the back of your throat you can't get to, but are constantly reminded of. I think Alabama takes out its frustration tonight on the Sooners.




HAROLD STOUT

Alabama 31, Oklahoma 17

This is reminiscent of the last time Alabama played in the Sugar Bowl - coming off a disappointing loss. A poor performance led to a loss to Utah. I think this team will rise above the disappointment of the Auburn game and take care of business.




AARON SUTTLES

Alabama 35, Oklahoma 17

Alabama avoids a repeat of the 2009 Sugar Bowl. This team is motivated to prove it's still the best team in the country and wants to send its seniors out on top.




LYONS YELLIN

Alabama 37, Oklahoma 6

The loss against Utah in the 2009 Sugar Bowl makes it easy to think this Alabama squad could lay another egg. This, however, is a different team, and the program as a whole is in far better shape than it was then. This one will resemble that 2010 thumping of Michigan State while reminding Bob Stoops the SEC is still top dog.



***************




The Call
By Tommy Deas

Offense
Advantage: Alabama
For most of the season Alabama's offense has been a force, but struggles against Mississippi State and Auburn raise questions. With guard Anthony Steen out of the lineup, the Crimson Tide will need solutions. Expect AJ McCarron to go out on a high note, capping a stellar career at quarterback. Oklahoma has a stout running game no matter who is at quarterback, averaging almost 236 yards per game.

Defense
Advantage: Alabama
This is where Alabama has the biggest edge. The Crmison Tide is allowing just 11.3 points and less than 275 total yards per game. C.J. Mosley will go down as an all-time great among UA linebackers and will lead a unit that needs to be strong against the run in this spot. The Sooners are allowing about three touchdowns per game and have been suspect in pass defense.

Special teams
Advantage: Oklahoma
Up until the Iron Bowl, this had been a strength for Alabama. But some missed field goals left points off the scoreboard and Auburn's field goal return knocked the Crimson Tide out of the national championship hunt. Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders averages 16.8 yards on punt returns and Roy Finch is a dangerous kickoff returner. Oklahoma has only missed three field goal tries.

Coaching
Advantage: Alabama
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops probably isn't appreciated enough. He has averaged better than 10 wins a year over 15 seasons, won a national title and eight Big 12 championships and has taken the Sooners to nine BCS bowl appearances. Few can equal that record, but Alabama's Nick Saban has surpassed it. UA missed out on a chance at a third straight national title but has won three crystal trophies in the last five years under Saban.

Intangibles
Advantage: Oklahoma
Alabama might still be smarting from the loss to Auburn and the knowledge that everything it had played for all season went down the drain on one unlikely play. The Sooners are happy to be in the Sugar Bowl, riding the momentum of a victory over rival Oklahoma State. The Crimson Tide will need to put the Iron Bowl behind it to go out on a winning note.

TOMMY DEAS

Alabama 31, Oklahoma 14

This isn't the Alabama team of 2008, and the Oklahoma Sooners aren't Utah. OU should have Alabama's complete attention, and this Crimson Tide uad has more maturity among the upperclassmen than did the team that lost to the Utes. Expect Alabama to come ready to play.

Reach the TideSports staff at sports@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0189.

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