2009 Sugar Bowl Preview and Picks – Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Utah Utes

No. 4 Crimson Tide (12-1) -10.5, 45 O/U vs. No. 7 Utah Utes (12-0)
Sugar Bowl, Superdome, New Orleans, L.A., Jan 2nd, 8:00PM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Alabama Crimson Tide went through the SEC undefeated this season, but lost the game that mattered the most in the SEC Championship. Alabama would have definitely been in the National Championship game if they could have beaten the Florida Gators, but now will settle for another BCS Bowl. The Crimson Tide will get the opportunity to accomplish what no other team in college football has been able to do this season and that is defeat the Utah Utes.

Utah ended their season as one of only two undefeated teams in America. The Utes received an at-large BCS berth due to the undefeated campaign and will get the opportunity to prove to the nation that they can compete when they take on one of the SECs best teams. The Utes had a couple solid wins this season over TCU and BYU, but they will face a very tough task when they take on Alabama. Utah is averaging 37 points per game this season while racking up 403 yards per game of total offense. Utah will try and conquer of tough Crimson Tide defensive front and shock the nation with an upset.

Alabama was ranked the number 1 team in college football for the last few weeks of the season. The Crimson Tide put up a great fight in the SEC Championship, but fell in the end to the Gators 31-20. Alabama has one of the best defenses in all of college football. The Crimson Tide rank 3rd in total defense holding teams to only 248 total yards per game. The Alabama defense is also ranked 3rd in the nation in scoring defense holding opposing offenses to only 11.5 points per game. The defense is very strong and physical and perhaps will be too much for the Utes to handle.

Bookies opened the betting line favoring the Crimson Tide by 10.5 points over undefeated Utah. Do not expect many bettors to side with the Utes considering how well the SEC has dominated bowl games in recent years. The over/under for the contest has been set to a mark of 45 while early bettors are favoring the over total.

The Crimson Tide offensive attack is old school style power running offense led by junior tailback Glenn Coffee. Coffee has been extremely impressive this season with 6.1 yards per carry average. Coffee has 220 carries for 1,347 yards and 10 touchdowns. Freshmen running back Mark Ingram has also had a good number of touches with 135 carries for 702 and 12 touchdowns. The Utah defense will have their hands full trying to slow down these two running backs and a very strong Alabama offensive line. When the Crimson Tide drop back to pass, they will be looking for possibly the best freshmen wide receiver in the nation Julio Jones. Jones is a very talented receiver that can make some big plays when it counts. Look for quarterback John Parker Wilson to hook up with Jones often inside the Superdome.

Utah QB Brian Johnson has been solid this season throwing the football for the Mountain West Champions. Johnson has thrown slightly under 70% this season for 2,636 yards. Johnson is also responsible for 21 touchdowns through the air while throwing 9 interceptions. Johnson has a talented group of receivers to throw to with Freddie Brown being the favorite target. Brown has caught 65 passes this season for 775 yards, and 7 touchdowns. The best way to attack the Alabama defense will be through the air because running the ball against the Crimson Tide defense will be nearly impossible. Johnson will try and spread the ball out to some talented receivers and expose the Bama secondary.

Betting Trends
Utah is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games while reaching the over total in 5 of their last 7 games. The Crimson Tide is also 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games while reaching the under total in 7 of the 8 previous games. The Crimson Tide has an 8-2 record over the last 10 games in out of conference play.

Jays Pick: The SEC taste sugar sweet in this game. The Tide is just too strong in the trenches to be beaten in this game. Take Alabama -10.5.