Some said that Alabama missing out on the national championship game might be the end of an era. Oklahoma coming in as underdogs to the Sugar Bowl and stunning the Crimson Tide with a huge night from freshman quarterback Trevor Knight probably helped cement that sentiment.
The Sooners came away from New Orleans with a 45-31 win, finishing the season with a 11-2 record, and their first BCS Bowl game win since 2011, beating Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl 48-20. With the Sugar Bowl win and the end of the BCS era, Oklahoma become the first school to claim at least on win in each BCS venue. Ohio State playing against Clemson in the Orange Bowl have a shot at that achievement as well.
Nick Saban teams don’t give up so many points. Oklahoma scored 31 in the first half, 21 of them coming thanks to Alabama turnovers – A.J. McCarron throwing two interceptions in his final appearance as a college football player, and another fumble from T.J. Yeldon. The only actual defensive touchdown Oklahoma scored in the game came much later thanks to Geneo Grissom being quick on his feet and with his mind.
Alabama have given up a total of 31 points only five times entering the game since Nick Saban too over. However, Oklahoma had 31 at half time already, something that’s never happen to the Tide since Saban took the job. It’s the first time Alabama finish the season with two losses, and their first BCS Bowl loss since the 2009 Sugar Bowl, when they dropped the game against Utah in another shocking result.
I actually thought that the players responded in practice pretty well for this game. We put over 500 yards of offense up. Somebody had to do something right. I don’t think that we played as well on defense as we’re capable of or should have.
Trevor Knight started only four times this season heading into the Sugar Bowl, but in a test of showing he belongs as Oklahoma’s next starting quarterback for the next few years, Knight couldn’t have given a better performance. He threw four touchdown passes, showing a great arm and resiliency under pressure, completing 32-of-44 passes for 348 yards, intercepted once and sacked only once against the disappointing Alabama defense.
The best piece of news for Alabama in this game was the performance of Freshman running back Derrick Henry, finishing with two touchdowns and 161 yards from scrimmage.
Knight found Jalen Saunders, who also had a big game for Oklahoma in the win over the Cowboys that ended the regular season, for two touchdown passes. He connected with Lacoltan Bester and Sterling Shepard for scores as well, while the team didn’t use the running game as much, or at least successfully, rushing 30 times for only 81 yards.
Alabama were still in the game, getting a chance with just under a minute to play from their own 10. McCarron, already with two interceptions, was sacked and fumbled the ball. Geneo Grissom, who already picked up one fumble earlier in the game off of Yeldon, ran it for the touchdown and putting the game beyond Alabama’s reach.
For Bob Stoops, this wasn’t only about getting a big bowl game win, but also proving his claims that the SEC isn’t all that’s hyped up to be, and that other conferences deserve the same amount of respect.
It’s huge for our program, to get a win like this after no one gave us a chance all year. We’ve got to ride this into next year. We can’t settle with this. We want the big one. I have the utmost respect for Alabama, and I think this shows that obviously we can play with anybody. So, enough of that. And I just watched them go through their entire conference and play pretty well. I’m not pointing any fingers. But I think sometimes the comparisons aren’t necessarily very true.