LOUISIANA (Sporting Alert) — A pair of 12-1 teams in No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State will battle in semifinal two of the College Football Playoff in the AllState Sugar Bowl.
This fixture has the making of a classic as two familiar coaches — Nick Saban and Urban Meyer renew their rivalry, which goes back to the 2008 and 2009 SEC Championships.
Saban could start with the early advantage, as the Crimson Tide are expected to have the bulk of followers, given their closer trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Louisiana.
On the pitch, Alabama has made an Allstate Sugar Bowl record 15 overall appearances and have won eight of those, with the last one coming in 2012. Saban’s side is also making its third appearance in the last four years.
The build-up towards this game has been centered around Alabama’s wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has 115 catches for 1656 yards and 14 touchdowns thus far, and the Buckeyes have been making plans for the Biletnikoff Award winner and Heisman finalist.
Ohio State coach Meyer knows Saban very well and he undoubtedly will have prepared his team for their most important game of the season, yet.
Meyer, who is without his two first-choice quarterbacks, knows his will not start this one as the favourite, but the 59-0 dominating victory over the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship is a clear sign the Buckeyes are peaking at the right time.
Cardale Jones was very impressive in his first career start and Meyer revealed that he was “comfortable” with his quarterback situation.
“Cardale, if you asked me a year ago or six months ago, I would have looked at you and said you look like you’ve got six heads,” Meyer said.
“But it’s a much different story right now. He’s had a great week of practice. He’s big. He stands back in the pocket.
“He’s got control of the offense. And I think our strength coach said it best to me when we were getting ready for the Big Ten championship game.
“He said, ‘You realize he came in at the same time our staff did. He’s been in every meeting. He understands the culture and expectations of the offense.’ So [I feel] very comfortable.”
At the other end fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims has seen and done it all, and he’s been very productive this season for Alabama — throwing for 3250 yards and 26 touchdowns heading into the Sugar Bowl.
The winner of this contest will meet the victors of the other semifinal that involves No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State, in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, Jan. 12, in Arlington, Texas.
NCAA College Football Playoff – New Year’s Day
Thursday, January 1
No. 19 Auburn vs. No. 18 Wisconsin
OUTBACK BOWL ESPN2 – 12:00 PM
No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Baylor
GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC ESPN – 12:30 PM
No. 16 Missouri vs. No. 25 Minnesota
BUFFALO WILD WINGS CITRUS BOWL ABC – 1:00 PM
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State
ROSE BOWL – SEMIFINAL ESPN – 5:00 PM
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL – SEMIFINAL ESPN – 8:30 PM