Orange Bowl 2018
- Spread: Alabama by 14
- Over/Under: 77
- Money line: Alabama -625.00; Oklahoma +450.00
The Orange Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, making it the second oldest bowl game (tied with the Sugar Bowl and Sun Bowl). It was part of the Bowl Coalition in the 1990s and was part of the Bowl Championship Series from 1998-2013.
The game has been part of the College Football Playoffs since its inception. This year’s game will feature one of the most exciting quarterback matchups in recent history—Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray. Murray was able to upset Tagovailoa for the Heisman. Can he do so once again?
Oklahoma’s best shot is to do just what they have done all season long—outscore everyone. They have the No. 1 scoring offence in the country (49.5 points/game) and were No. 1 in total yards as well (No. 11 rushing; No. 8 passing).
But they have had to outscore everyone because their defence isn’t very good. They allow 32.4 points/game (96th), are not good against the run (156.7 yards/game allowed; 54th) but are even worse against the pass (291.4 yards/game allowed; 129th).
They are certainly going to have a hard time stopping Alabama’s offence (5th in total offence; 527.6 yards/game). Traditionally, the Crimson Tide has been a strong running team. While they haven’t run the ball as well this year (34th; 202.2 yards/game), it isn’t because they can’t. It is because they don’t need to. With Tagovailoa at QB, they have averaged 325.5 yards/game.
Whether they are running the ball or passing it, one thing hasn’t changed. Alabama is still one of the highest scoring teams in the country (47.9 points/game; second).
If they somehow struggle to score, the Crimson Tide defence will be hard for Oklahoma to score on. They have only allowed 14.8 points/game this season (fourth), and they are tough against the run (18th; 117 yards/game allowed) and pass (13th; 178.4 yards/game allowed).
So—who’s going to win?
On paper, it looks like Oklahoma doesn’t stand a chance. They don’t have a defence capable of slowing down the Alabama offence. That means the Sooners are going to have to outscore Alabama.
Statistically, that appears nearly impossible for Oklahoma to do. But mobile quarterbacks who can throw have done well against the Crimson Tide defence. Jake Fromm has come close to beating Alabama twice. But can Oklahoma’s offensive line give Murray enough time to work his magic?
They will give Murray some time—but not enough. Take Alabama to win straight up but take Oklahoma to win against the spread. As for the over/under—go with the over.
*Odds via Bet365