Sugar Bowl Playoff semifinal schedule and coverage: Alabama vs. Ohio State
One of two national semifinals heads to New Orleans for the first time ever to close out 2014, as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer meet for the first time since both were in the SEC.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl is always a spectacle. With more than 70,000 fans packed into the Superdome in New Orleans, there’s always a raucous atmosphere down the street from the French Quarter.
This year, the game will take on an even bigger role in the college football world. Along with the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the Sugar Bowl will be one of the host sites for the 2014 College Football Playoff and one of its national semifinals games. The BCS had a good run, but it was time to give the people what they wanted: a playoff.
The game will still get to include its traditional regional ties, with SEC champion Alabama landing unofficial hosting duties due to the Playoff rankings. Here is everything you need for this year’s Sugar Bowl:
Date and time, ET: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Stadium: Superdome, 72,000
Last year’s score: Oklahoma 45, Alabama 31
Last year’s attendance: 70,473
Last year’s TV rating: 11.3
Last year’s payout for each school: $17 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: Alabama, 14
Team with the most all-time wins: Alabama, 8
No. 1 Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC)
The Crimson Tide dropped the first game of October, but have been dominant since. The 23-17 loss to Ole Miss was the only blemish of the season for Alabama, as the team rolled to wins in the next eight games, including over Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn and, most recently, Missouri.
The formula for the Nick Saban-coached team has typically been strong defense and grinding offense in the past, and the Alabama defense is an elite unit again in 2014. However, the explosive offense of the Crimson Tide under new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin could make this Alabama team especially difficult to beat, as the team scored an average of 48.3 points in the last three games of the season.
Last bowl game: 2014 Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma, 45-31 loss
All-time bowl record: 34-23-3
Head coach’s bowl record: Nick Saban, 8-7
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
Well, that’s one way to recover from a disappointing early season defeat! Ohio State suffered an embarrassing two-touchdown home loss to Virginia Tech in early September, but responded with 11 straight victories to put themselves back into the playoff hunt. The Buckeyes made relatively easy work of Michigan State (49-37) and blew out Wisconsin (59-0) en route to their first Big Ten title under Urban Meyer.
The Buckeyes managed to do all this with multiple injuries at the quarterback position. Heisman contender Braxton Miller was knocked out for the year before the season started, and freshman star J.T. Barrett (who set school touchdown records this year) suffered a season-ending injury against Michigan. It proved not to matter, as third-stringer Cardale Jones threw for 15.1 yards per attempt and three touchdowns against the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Last bowl game: 2014 Orange Bowl vs. Clemson, 40-35 loss
All-time bowl record: 19-24
Head coach’s bowl record: Urban Meyer, 7-2