The 2022 Sugar Bowl will feature an exciting matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Kansas State Wildcats. Both teams have strong programs led by experienced coaches in Nick Saban for Alabama and Chris Klieman for Kansas State. The game will take place at the iconic Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, adding an extra layer of excitement and tradition to this highly anticipated contest. It should be a thrilling matchup between two talented teams, and fans of college football won't want to miss it. Ahead of this AllState Sugar Bowl clash between the Crimson Tide and the Wildcats, we’ll be making our Alabama football predictions.
Alabama football will face Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl for the first time. Although the Crimson Tide did not reach their goal of making the College Football Playoff and competing for the National Championship, they are still in a New Year's Six Bowl game. That should be an interesting consolation for their rabid fan base.
Despite concerns about opt-outs, Alabama is expected to have most of its key players available for the Sugar Bowl. That includes quarterback Bryce Young, pass rusher Will Anderson, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs. That should give them a tremendous edge in depth.
Meanwhile, Nick Saban, Alabama's coach, has a record of 1-3 in the Sugar Bowl with the Crimson Tide. Recall that he has had notable losses to Utah and Oklahoma. Still, Alabama football will aim to end the season on a high note with a victory over Kansas State. That might be easier said than done, though, as the Wildcats boast one of the most dynamic running backs in college football in Deuce Vaughn.
Having said that, let's get into our Alabama football predictions for the 2023 Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State.
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4. Will Anderson makes a big impact
Alabama's EDGE rusher and outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is expected to be a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has made a name for himself as one of the great defensive players in Alabama's history and could potentially be the first player selected in the draft.
Anderson had a successful freshman season in 2020, recording 52 total tackles, one forced fumble, and seven sacks. In 2021, he had an outstanding season, finishing with 101 total tackles and 17.5 total sacks, solidifying his high draft stock. Anderson continued to excel in 2022, leading the Crimson Tide defense with 51 total tackles, 10 sacks, and one interception heading into the Sugar Bowl.
Despite facing double and triple teams, Anderson's talent was undeniable and he will be a highly sought-after player in the NFL. Before any of that, however, he will dominate in this game. We have Anderson finding Kansas State QB Will Howard for a sack as he makes a big impact on defense.
3. Jahmyr Gibbs reaches 1,000 yards for the season
Crimson Tide RB Jahmyr Gibbs is a top-ranked utility back who has had an exceptional season for Alabama. He transferred to the team from Georgia Tech last offseason and immediately became a starter in their backfield. Gibbs, in fact, led the team with 850 rushing yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season. He also had 42 catches for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Gibbs totaled 1,455 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns for the year.
He is known for his elusiveness and speed as a runner, as well as his ability to make plays as a receiver and returner. He has also improved his skills in pass protection. In the bowl game, Gibbs has the chance to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark, and he will. We have him getting 150+ yards on the ground here against the Wildcats.
2. Bryce Young breaks 300 yards
Star Alabama QB and former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young had another impressive statistical season in 2022, though it was not enough to earn him an invitation to the 2022 Heisman ceremony. Young took over as the starting quarterback in 2021 and had a standout season, throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, while also adding three rushing touchdowns. In 2022, Young threw for 3,007 yards, 27 touchdowns, and five interceptions. At 6-0 and 194 pounds, Young's size has been a topic of discussion regarding his potential success in the NFL.
Young has stated that he will play in the Sugar Bowl, which will likely be his last game with Alabama. Despite some issues with offensive chemistry and Young's injured shoulder causing a lack of practice time, the Crimson Tide offense should have improved chemistry in the Sugar Bowl. We believe Young will turn in a strong performance. Put him up for 300+ yards as he solidifies his position as the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
1. Wildcats drown in the Crimson Tide
Alabama football will have most of its key players available for the Sugar Bowl. That's extremely significant. The Crimson Tide's defense also has some motivation to prove themselves in this game, and they have the ability to shut down Kansas State's offense while also being successful on the ground themselves.
Remember that Alabama has a strong secondary, ranking 15th in EPA/Pass, but they do struggle against the run, ranking 80th in EPA/Rush. The Tide allow an average of 3.51 yards per carry and have a top-20 ranking in red zone touchdown percentage allowed. Alabama's pass rush, led by Anderson with 10 sacks, also ranks 13th in the nation. Needless to say, Kansas State is not going to have an easy game here.
If the Tide can stop the Wildcats' run game and force them into passing situations, it could be a good sign for Alabama. With motivation and strong defensive abilities, Alabama should win this matchup against Kansas State.