The 10-2 Alabama Crimson Tide takes on the 10-3 Kansas State Wildcats in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, LA.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys that will see Alabama end what has been a frustrating season with a win.
1 – Is Alabama Invested?
This is really the critical question that will decide the contest. Kansas State has been a nice story in 2022 – no one had them winning the Big XII title and making it to the Sugar Bowl – but Alabama is the superior team. For most schools, a 10-2 regular season with a win over their rival would be a big deal. Playing in anything but the College Football Playoff at this time of year is a major disappointment for Alabama, and it will be crucial that Nick Saban can get his guys invested in winning a bowl that they really didn’t want to be any part of back in August.
2 – The Stars Are Playing
One thing that suggests Alabama will indeed be taking this seriously is the news that both quarterback Bryce Young and defensive end Will Anderson will be suiting up in New Orleans. It has become a sad tradition that (outside of the CFP) any players looking ahead to either transferring or entering the NFL Draft will simply sit out the bowl game to avoid a potential injury that could cost them millions of dollars. This is especially true of top-end draft picks, but with Young and Anderson both projected as top-three picks in all the mock drafts that matter, it is nice to see them bucking the trend. Alabama will have some depth issues because of the transfer portal, but the starting 22 – and a couple of crucial reserves – will be on show at the Superdome.
3 – Stop The Kansas State Run Game
Kansas State has a nice quarterback in Will Howard, that can make plays passing the ball. Howard, however, is no Byrce Young, and Kansas State is at its best when the rushing attack gets going. The Wildcats are 7-0 when they hit 199 yards on the ground, but the Alabama defense has a size/speed combo that they don’t see in the Big XII. Kansas State is best described as a team that doesn’t beat itself, so Alabama will have to avoid the penalties that hurt them in the defeats to LSU and Tennessee. The Crimson Tide should win if they can do so while stopping the run.