NCAA College Football, Basketball, and Baseball -
 TV Listings
 Live Scoreboard
 Conference Standings
 Top 25 Polls
 Free Pick'Em Contest
 Live Scoreboard
 Conference Standings
 Top 25 and BCS Polls
 The Work Force
Site Developed by

January 1, 2009

SCS.comOver the years of the BCS, the Sugar Bowl has seen its fair share of great matchups. Having a tie-in with the consistent best conference in college football helps quite a bit. Even with the SEC Champion heading to the BCS Championship for the third straight year, New Orleans will be hosting a SEC team for the ninth straight year. The SEC teams have been dominant, going 6-2 over that stretch, including last year's blowout of Georgia over Hawaii.

SUGAR BOWL - Utah vs Alabama
January 2 - 7:00 PM CST FOX TV - New Orleans, LA

The matchup...

This season may look like a repear of last season, as the Sugar Bowl gets "stuck" with the undefeated non-BCS team. However, Utah is a huge step ahead of Hawaii of 2007. Utah started the season with a bang in Michigan Stadium, and knocked off very high quality opposition in TCU, BYU, and Air Force. Utah also went undefeated in 2004, winning the Fiesta Bowl. The Utes will not be taken lightly as the program competes with Boise State as the best non=BCS program in the country.
The SEC representative is the SEC Championship loser for the third straight year, but Alabama was undefeated going into the loss against Florida. The Crimson Tide also opened with a bang by surprising the country with a bashing of Clemson. Alabama then proceeded to knockout every serious opponent early in games until a late-season survival of overtime against LSU. Alabama has been to 13 Sugar Bowls and their most recent trip capped off the 1992 National Championship. Nick Saban hopes to create more good memories by knocking off the last remaining undefeated team in college football.

When Utah has the ball...

The Utes bring a good scoring offense into this game, regularly hitting the 40 point mark in 2008. Quarterback Brian Johnson was the offensive MVP in the MWC this season, throwing for 2636 yards and 24 touchdowns. Utah also brings two very talented running backs into this game, Matt Asiata and Darrell Mack. Still, the Utah offense moves by the passing game most of the time.
Alabama brings one of the best defenses in the country to stop this potent Utah offense. Statistically in the top 10 of most major categories, Alabama is led by DL Terrence Cody and LB Rolando McClain. Cody did not have amazing statistics, but his effect on offensive lines is obvious as he disrupts many plays. The Utah offensive line will be a little overmatched, which could lead to some turnovers or bad decisions out of Johnson.

When Alabama has the ball...

Alabama was pretty potent on offense themselves, netting over 31 points per game. QB John Parker Wilson does not carry the load, but he manages the Saban gameplan nicely and has limited his mistakes this season. WR Julio Jones does give Utah's pass defense something to worry about, but the key will be Alabama's strong rushing attack led by RB Glen Coffee. Coffee will set a school single-season record if he has a decent game against Utah, but his backup Mark Ingram is just as dangerous.
Utah had a solid defense themselves, holding opponents under an avaerage of two touchdowns a game. DE Paul Kruger led the team with 5.5 sacks this season, and he will certainly cause havoc for the Alabama offensive line. Utah was a good team at stopping the run this season, so this battle will be won in the trenches and the lines. Utah's defense will have to stay aware of the passing game though, as Wilson can throw accuratley downfield.

Special Teams and Coaching...

If there's one aspect of the Sugar Bowl where Utah has a marked advantage, it is special teams. Louie Sakoda handles both the punting and kicking duties, and he perhaps is the best kicker in the country. Sakoda punted for an average over 40 yards a punt, regularly pinning the opposition within the 20 yard line. In the kicking game, Sakoda is almost perfect at 21/23 in field goals and 52/53 in PAT's. Alabama has a serviceable long distance kicker in Leigh Tiffin and a decent punter in P.J. Fitzgerald, but Sakoda could be the difference in a defensive slugfest.
Although many view Utah as a stepping stone program to other jobs, fourth-year coach Kyle Wittingham does not view it that way. Wittingham is very happy dominating in his own conference after taking over from Urban Meyer, and Utah does have the BCS opportunities to make this job a good one. Nick Saban turned around Alabama in year 2, much quicker than expected. Saban is a coaching legend at the college ranks, and he will have the Crimson Tide ready. While the Sugar Bowl might be a disappointment for them, the Alabama fans have enough perspective to enjoy their first trip to New Orleans in 15 years. Slight edge to Saban in this coaching duel.

Star watch...

For Alabama, the star to watch is RB Glen Coffee. Coffee is a brusier in a speed conference, proving that a powerful defense and a strong running game can take a team far in the SEC again. Coffee will set school records this season, and his talent will be fun to watch on the BCS spotlight stage.
For Utah, the king is Louie Sakoda. Not often do you have a special teams player that is so talented at the different arts of punting and kicking. Sakoda is comfortable under the pressure of fourth downs, having been on the field for almost every single one this season. Sakoda could be a high draft pick down the road, and this will be a good chance to improve his future stock.

Deciding factor...

On paper, this looks like a game that will be a 13-9 kind of slugfest. Still, these teams have had a long time to scheme offensively and come up with something that will work against the tough defenses. If the game is very low-scoring, then Louie Sakoda will be the difference. Sadly, bowl games almost never go to plan. this one becomes more of an offensive show than expected, and Utah will not be able to score more than 24 on the Alabama defense. Alabama wins with superior line play, but this game will not get out of hand.
U.S.A. STORE - Shop for NCAA gear here!
Place your ad here. Contact for more info.
Copyright 2004-2009 All rights reserved. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.