When last night’s Sugar Bowl began, two-time defending national champ Alabama had lost three games in the last three seasons by a combined total of 14 points. They were a 17-point favorite over Oklahoma, and some college football writers and fans were saying they’d end the year as the best team in the country even though they’d failed to qualify for the BCS title game after a fairly fluky loss to Auburn.
But no one’s saying that anymore. Oklahoma laid a beating on Bama the likes of which it hadn’t seen in years, rolling the Tide’s defense for five touchdowns and battering its offense for seven sacks in a 45-31 victory. Oklahoma freshman quarterback Trevor Knight (playing in only his eighth game) and receivers Lacoltan Bester, Jalen Saunders, and Sterling Shepard (among others) were incredible, attacking Alabama’s fearsome secondary with a speed and precision that bordered on the ridiculous.
The Sooner receivers made the Crimson Tide’s four- and five-star athletes look flat-footed, while young Knight dropped them deep, pinpoint touch passes reminiscent of Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
When you hit a guy in the back of the end zone throwing 25-plus yards back across your body on a broken play, it’s your night.
The game wasn’t a blowout by any means, as Alabama’s offense put up over 500 yards, led by freshman Derrick Henry, who ripped 161 of those on only nine touches, cruising through Oklahoma’s tackle attempts with seeming effortlessness. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this in years to come:
But in the end, Alabama was doomed by an inability to pass downfield in the second half. Quarterback A.J. McCarron’s three turnovers played into the hands of critics who say he’s rarely had to pass under pressure during a college career surrounded by fortress-like offensive linemen. Last night that fortress was raided to stunning effect by Oklahoma’s defensive line. Eric Striker led the attack with three sacks, and his strip of McCarron here, with less than a minute left, was returned for a touchdown that sealed the game.
The camera cut to McCarron’s mother and girlfriend in the stands.
Indeed, it wasn’t the result that anyone, probably including Trevor Knight and Oklahoma, was expecting. But that’s, as they say, why they play the games. And the Oklahoma Sooners are your 2014 Sugar Bowl champs.