Mandatory Credit: Photo by Butch Dill/AP/Shutterstock (13689953s) Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Kansas State, in New Orleans Sugar Bowl Football, New Orleans, United States – 31 Dec 2022
CFB Bowl Special: Alabama dominates Kansas State after a slow start, take home Sugar Bowl 45-20
No. 5 Alabama 45, No. 9 Kansas State 20
Coming into the game, we expected Alabama to play with a chip on its shoulder. They were the first team outside the College Football Playoff, and if it were not for two losses by a combined four points, the Tide would be safely in the tournament. Instead, they found themselves taking on Kansas State, who was rolling with a backup quarterback, and they took advantage.
After a slow start, Alabama simply took over the game. Trailing 10-0 late in the first quarter, Alabama scored 35 unanswered points until Kansas State kicked a field goal midway through the third quarter. This was among the best offensive performances that Alabama has put together all season. The same can also be said for star quarterback Bryce Young who was as efficient and productive with the football as he has been all year. Young exited the game to a standing ovation halfway through the fourth quarter, having completed 15-of-21 attempts for 321 yards and five touchdowns. This was the perfect performance to cap off a phenomenal career at Alabama as he likely heads to the top of the NFL Draft. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs was a nice complement to the offense rushing for 76 yards on 15 carries. Jase McClellan added 42 yards and a score on seven totes. Nick Saban’s defenses have always been known for strong secondary play, and this game was no different. Brian Branch put together a monster game putting together 11 tackles with an interception and a sack. Missing the playoff was a tough pill to swallow for Alabama, but a dominating win in the Sugar Bowl is a solid consolation prize.
The opposite can be said about Kansas State’s arc over the course of the game. The Wildcats controlled the game for the first 10-15 minutes until Alabama exploded for three quarters. Kansas State just made a few mistakes and could not rebound from them. Quarterback Will Howard put together a subpar performance completing 18-of-35 passes for 210 yards and two interceptions without a touchdown. If K-State was to have any chance of winning, Howard needed to protect the football and be efficient. That is a tough task when playing against an Alabama defense that ranked among the best pass defenses in college football. With that said, the primary source of offense for the Wildcats was star tailback Deuce Vaughn who did not fail to produce. He finished with 133 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He has truly dominated college football this year, and Alabama was no exception. One could assume a closer game if Adrian Martinez was playing quarterback for K-State. Still, the reality remained that this game was about Bryce Young and Alabama showing everyone why they deserved to be in the playoff. The Big 12 champions could not stack up this afternoon against the perennial SEC powerhouse.