If you were to tell someone in August that Alabama would be playing the Big 12 champion in a bowl game in December, they could be forgiven for assuming the Crimson Tide were playing a blue blood like Oklahoma or Texas in the College Football Playoff. That’s how it was supposed to be, anyways.
But things did not turn out the way anybody expected for Alabama in 2022 and instead of playing for a chance to go to the National Championship, the Crimson Tide are looking to salvage their season with a win over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama is a 6.5-point favorite.
New customers only. Must be 21+. AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY only. (Welcome Offer not available in NY & PA) Full T&C apply.
New users only, 21 or older. NY, CO, DC, IA, IN, IL, MI, NV, NJ, PA, TN, VA, WV only. Full T&Cs apply.
21+. New customers only. AZ, CT, IA, IL, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, WV, WY only. T&C apply
Alabama vs. Kansas State (12 p.m. ET, ESPN) prediction: Alabama -6.5
There is going to be a lot of talk about Alabama’s motivation for this game. The Crimson Tide entered the season as the betting favorite to win the National Championship, so a date with Kansas State in a New Year’s Six bowl is a massive disappointment for Nick Saban.
But in a surprising move, quarterback Bryce Young has opted to play on Saturday in what will be his final start for the Tide before he’s drafted with one of the first picks in the NFL Draft.
Young and the Tide offense finished the season ranked 18th in passing success rate and sixth in finishing drives, but Kansas State should provide some resistance against Young and Alabama’s aerial attack, which will be without wide receivers Traeshon Holden and Jojo Earle.
The Wildcats finished the season ranked 26th in defensive passing success rate and were 27th in finishing drives, but they’ll likely find things tough in the trenches. Kansas State ranked 105th in line yards and boasted the 76th-best pass rush according to Pro Football Focus, so Alabama should be able to push their way through this front seven.
Alabama’s defense didn’t put up the elite numbers we’re used to seeing from them, but the Crimson Tide still ranked 10th in passing success rate and had the 14th-best pass rush, per PFF. That pass rush got great news ahead of this game, too, as star pass rusher Will Anderson has opted to play.
Betting on College Football?
Kansas State’s offense is basically good at everything, but not great at anything. The Wildcats finished the season ranked between 35th and 64th in rushing success rate (60th), passing success rate (64th), finishing drives (35th) and line yards (43rd).
So much of this handicap will come down to whether or not you think Alabama will be up for this contest and with the confirmation that Young and Anderson will play, it’s hard to imagine that the Crimson Tide won’t give an honest effort. Even though money has come in on Alabama and moved the line from -4 to -6.5, there’s still some meat on this bone as the Tide should have enough firepower to get separation against a solid, but not elite Kansas State outfit.