Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Alabama (10-2) vs. No. 11 Kansas State (10-3), Saturday, Noon Eastern (ESPN)
FanDuel Sportsbook College Line: Alabama by 6 1/2.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Alabama seeks its 10th Sugar Bowl trophy in its 17th appearance in the game. Kansas State is making its first appearance in the game after winning the Big 12 championship by handing TCU its only loss this season.
The Kansas State offensive line against an Alabama defensive front led by All-America outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Wildcats blockers have opened holes for a running game averaging nearly 210 yards this season and they’ve allowed just 19 sacks. Alabama’s defense has held seven opponents to fewer than 80 yards rushing and averages three sacks per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas State: RB Deuce Vaughn rushed for 1,425 yards and eight touchdowns and also has been effective as a receiver out of the backfield. He has 1,803 yards from scrimmage and 11 total TDs this season.
Alabama: QB Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, passed for 3,007 yards and 27 TDs in 2022 despite a shoulder injury that sidelined him for a game. He is the first Alabama QB with consecutive 3,000-yard seasons passing. He usually scrambles to pass, but also ran for 11 first downs this season.
FACTS & FIGURES
The star players for both teams chose to play instead of opting out to prepare for the NFL draft. … Kansas State comes in on a four-game winning streak. … Wildcats QB Will Howard has passed for 15 touchdowns against just two interceptions and is 4-0 as starter. … Kansas State is 5-1 in games when Howard has either relieved or started for injured season-opening starting QB Adrian Martinez. … Martinez, who has had multiple injuries since Oct. 22, is expected to be available for the bowl game. … Kansas State reached 10 victories for the first time since 2012 with a 31-28 overtime victory against No. 3 TCU in the Big 12 title game. … The Wildcats are 3-2 all-time against SEC teams in bowl games. … This is Alabama’s 15th consecutive 10-win season, an NCAA record for the most double-digit-win seasons in a row, all under coach Nick Saban. The streak eclipses a mark previously set by Florida State under Bobby Bowden. … Alabama is 97-51-4 in neutral site contests. Since Saban became coach in 2007, the Crimson Tide is 29-7 in neutral site games, but three of the losses came at the Superdome. … Alabama has dropped three of its past four Sugar Bowls, but in its most recent appearance defeated Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal game en route to a national title for the 2017 season. … In addition to being a unanimous All-American, Anderson (17 tackles for loss, 10 sacks) took home four national defensive player awards (Bednarik, Lombardi, Lott and Nagurski).