The Sugar Bowl will feature the best team in college football and a team that I think everyone, themselves included thinks is lucky to be there. Alabama will roll into the Sugar Bowl settled into their new style of offense under first year coordinator Lane Kiffin. It will pit two coaching heavyweights against each other as Urban Meyer will face off with Nick Saban. It’s hard to imagine a coach that’s done a better job than Urban Meyer this year after the mountain of adversity he’s faced, from losing two starting QBs to having a player kill himself. Alabama’s head man might have shown the most flexibility shifting to a style of offense he’s argued is a detriment to the sport over the last few years.
Ohio State should really feel like an Oscar nominee, happy to just be there. But that being said, with no one expecting them to actually compete in this game they may very well sit in a very powerful position. They should feel very little pressure going into this game. Meyer will have to do things to make Cordale Jones feel very comfortable. Also expect to see The Ohio State use some gadget plays early to try to keep pace if their defense struggles to contain Cooper and the Tide offense. The defense should do what they can to eliminate Cooper as half of Blake Sims completions this year have gone to his number one receiver. If they can do that it puts the onus on Blake Sims to win the game.
Saban is too smart not to realize that Cooper will be a target to be removed from this game. I believe Kiffin will be told to use Cooper in creative ways to get him the ball. I also think Saban will prepare his defense for Oregon knowing of the three remaining teams that is the team that threatens your defense’s core most. If you prepare to play detail oriented, smart football, where you stay at home and do your job you may not have giant impact plays on defense but you also won’t be caught out of position. That should help keep a team from becoming complacent. And if he feels them slipping he should just let them watch the Fiesta Bowl where Oklahoma was upset by the Boise State Broncos by way of a hook and ladder and statue of liberty play.
I think this game boils down to does Alabama feel pressure early and let Ohio State be competitive. If so I think the game could be very interesting. But if Alabama plays loose and as well as they did down the stretch it’s hard to see a scenario where Cordale Jones could pull off another game like he had in the Big Ten championship.