Trevor Knight: A. A game for the ages. A redshirt freshman, who had played and performed sporadically, was superb. Considering the circumstances and opponent, it was among the best quarterbacked games in OU history. Knight completed 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards for four touchdowns. His lone interception, in the first quarter, was not a bad decision, it just deflected off the hands of leaping Jalen Saunders. Knight's only glaring mistake was a fourth-quarter rollout pass that could have been intercepted, when the Sooners were trying to protect a 14-point lead. And Knight was at his best in a late drive, completing three straight passes after OU faced first-and-30, setting up a TD pass to Sterling Shepard, in which Knight evaded the rush and threw back across his body.
Game plan: A. Josh Heupel unfurled a great attack, and no trick plays were necessary. Just a flurry of different and new formations. A double stack look, some quick shifts from a fullhouse backfield to two slots, more triple option. The Sooners even huddled at times. And OU used hardly any of the zone read option that was considered the conventional way to defeat 'Bama.
Pass rush: A. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had quite a day, too. He basically sold out to the blitz, putting his cornerbacks on an island but hoping the pressure could get to 'Bama quarterback AJ McCarron. It did, led by Geneo Grissom and Eric Striker. McCarron had a bunch of big plays, but so did the OU defense, with two interceptions and seven sacks, plus several throwaways by McCarron. And at game's end, OU's front four produced the game-clinching sack of McCarron.
Revelry: A. Playing Alabama in the Superdome is not like playing LSU in the Superdome, but it's not far off. 'Bama fans flooded the streets of New Orleans the last couple of days and probably had a 2-1 edge in fans. But 'Bama fans were classy and certainly made for a great spectacle: crimson houndstooth fedoras, the red-and-white pompoms, the Million Dollar band spelling out “BAMA.”
Tackling: C. One of the last things OU seemingly had to worry about became its Achilles heel in this game. Derrick Henry, a 238-pound freshman, ran rough over the Sooners in the second half, and his 61-yard touchdown off a swing pass, in which he broke two tackles, then split two OU defenders, kept Alabama alive late in the game.
Coin flip: B. The Sugar Bowl takes its sponsorship seriously. It had actor Dennis Haybert, the commanding presence of those Allstate commercials, flip the coin. Too bad Geico doesn't sponsor the game. The Cockney-accented gecko could have walked out to midfield.
Receivers: A. Saunders and Shepard were playmakers supreme. Saunders had five catches for 75 yards and two TDs; Shepard had seven catches for 63 yards and a TD, plus a running touchdown. But they got some help. Lacoltan Bester was superb, with six catches for 105 yards, a touchdown and the game's biggest play, a 34-yard reception on a third-and-15 play in the fourth quarter, setting up a touchdown. Seldom-used Derrick Woods made a leaping catch for 20 yards on third-and-12. Even tight ends Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara each had a catch.
Secondary: B. OU's defensive backs had a rough start. They failed to corral 'Bama's receivers early in the game on quick throws, and then they were beaten deep by some McCarron long balls. But Tide receivers increasingly were well-covered, causing some of the sacks. Gabe Lynn had a first-quarter interception, then Zack Sanchez jumped a McCarron slant pass for a second-quarter interception that sent momentum cascading OU's way.
Offensive line: B. The patched-together OU line didn't open a ton of holes, but it opened some. Sooner tailbacks and flankers rushed 24 times for 77 yards. And while Knight's protection withered the longer the game went, it held up early as he found a hot hand.