Free Pick: Sugar Bowl

One of the more highly anticipated BCS Bowl matchups this season is between the undefeated Utah Utes and the 12-1 Alabama Crimson Tide, who will square off in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.

Our team of writers and handicappers break down the matchup and hand out a Sugar Bowl Free Pick, which takes place Friday January 2 at 8:15PM ET.

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Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Alabama –10.5 point spread favorite. The over/under for this game has been set 45.5 total points.

Top Public Betting Trend: The Crimson Tide are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games, while the under has covered in seven of ‘Bama’s last eight contests.

Key Stat: Alabama is allowing just 11.5 points per game while scoring an average of 32.1 PPG this season. They’re limiting opponents to only 174.9 passing yards per game and 73.6 rushing yards per game.

Game Outlook: A lot of college football pundits believe a very underrated Utah program can hang with the likes of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. But this game is going to come down to the trenches, where Alabama has a distinct advantage. The Utes, who have an outstanding offense, will likely keep things close throughout most of the game but eventually the Tide’s outstanding offensive and defensive lines should where Utah down. Saban will likely run tailback Glen Coffee down Utah’s throat until they finally yield and give up the big play. The only issue is that ‘Bama had to suspend their best offensive tackle, Andre Smith, for violating team rules. So things could get interesting if Utah decides to overload the Tide on that side and run blitz them all game. While the Utes have been very good versus the number this year, going 5-1 against the spread in their last six games, the fact of the matter is that they haven’t faced a defense all season like the one they’ll face January 2. ‘Bama’s defensive front four is so good, and so talented that it should be able to keep Utah in check. We lean towards the under in this game, too, as ‘Bama has the potential to limit the Utes’ scoring. The only thing that could work against our ‘Bama pick is the motivation factor. Two years ago the Oklahoma Sooners appeared to be the more dominant team in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, yet a more motivated Boise State team shocked the nation with an inspiring win. If the Tide are still seething from their loss to the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game, Utah could potentially sneak up on them and produce a Boise State-type upset. For the rest of our College Football Bowl Free Pick, see below.

Check out the 2008 Sugar Bowl Preview

Our Free College Football Bowl Pick for the Sugar Bowl matchup between the Utah Utes and Alabama Crimson Tide game is

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE –10.5

TheSpread.com Projected Final Score

Alabama Crimson Tide 26

Utah Utes 13

We also predict that this game will GO UNDER THE TOTAL (45.5 Sports Interaction.com) SET BY ODDSMAKERS

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Posted: 1/2/09 10:00AM ET

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