NEW ORLEANS — Standing in the French Quarter sipping a beer, Sooners fan Mike James was blunt.
“Slim to none,” James said when asked about his team's chances in Thursday's Sugar Bowl (7:30 p.m., ESPN). “Only because Bob Stoops (ticked) off the SEC with what he said at the Big 12 press conference before the season.”
While James was a pessimistic voice, most Sooners fans who made the trip to the Big Easy are optimistic about OU's chances despite coming into the game as 16 1/2-point underdogs.
“I think we're going to win it,” Butch Middleton said.
Middleton and his wife, Carolyn, made the drive to New Orleans from their home east of Edmond.
The couple visited the city for their honeymoon 38 years ago and is back for the first time since.
“I think we have nothing to lose,” Carolyn said. “We weren't supposed to beat OSU either.”
Terry Ledford and his wife, Michelle, made a 10-hour car ride from their home in Shelby, N.C., to cheer on the Sooners.
Terry, now 57, started watching the Sooners when he was 12 and immediately became an OU fan though he lives across the country.
“Not long after that, Switzer came around and I fell in love with Barry Switzer and the wishbone,” Terry said.
The couple regularly drives to games in Norman and Terry says he's been to “at least 10” OU bowl games.
He also likes OU's chances better than Vegas oddsmakers.
“To be honest with you, I think they're good,” Terry said. “If they play like they did against OSU, I think they've got a real good chance. The defense and the quarterback play are going to be the keys.”
Like Ledford, Gavin Thompson lives far from Oklahoma but still cheers for the Sooners.
His father and other family lives in Duncan, but Gavin — a freshman in high school — lives with his mother, Leann Thompson in Minneapolis.
He already has an application to the school hanging on his refrigerator at home.
Leann, along with her mother Carole Hedlund, brought Gavin to New Orleans.
“It's the trip of a lifetime,” Leann said. “I told him it was Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Happy New Year, Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Fourth of July all wrapped up into one.”
Gavin expects a close game but thinks the Sooners will come out ahead.
“I think they might win by a field goal,” Gavin said. “Their running game and pass defense give them a chance.”
Even though James isn't giving the Sooners much of a chance, he couldn't pass up the chance to make the trip from Edmond with his wife, uncle and cousins for the game.
“It's my first bowl game and I had an opportunity to come,” James said. “The way I look at it, these are two of the best college football programs in history with all the national championships that they've won, so you can't ask for a better bowl matchup.”