NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made headlines this summer for stating his belief that SEC dominance in college football was nothing more than propaganda.
On Friday afternoon, after arriving back at the Switzer Center following the Sooners' 45-31 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Stoops took one last shot at the preseason perception of the Crimson Tide — and the SEC — being unbeatable.
“So much for the big bad wolf, right?”
Stoops' troops had taken down college football's goliath, and OU fans — like their coach — were ready to gloat.
“Alabama being a traditional power, and being on top so much lately, puts the emphasis on how big a win it was,” said Stacey Witter, a 48-year-old fan who came from Mustang to greet the team as they returned from New Orleans.
“But they're just like us. (OU) has been doing it a long time, too. We've been there. I've been telling people we're not a program that will ever be overwhelmed by any opponent or moment.”
The Sugar Bowl win as a 16 1/2-point underdog brought back memories of the Sooners' 2000 national title game victory over Florida State. That game, played on Jan. 3, 2001, marked the last time OU was a double-digit underdog in a Bowl Championship Series game.
“I was there at the Orange Bowl in 2000 and it was the same thing,” said Norman native Jim Goodenow, who has been a season-ticket holder for 40 years. “People said OU shouldn't even show up to the game. But that's why it's played on the field. I was proud to see that group of boys show up and play like that. It reminded me of that national championship team.”
Many fans were already shifting focus to next season, citing the return of Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight as reason for optimism. Knight passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns against Alabama to earn Sugar Bowl MVP honors.
“I didn't know Knight had that capability,” said John Wood, a season-ticket holder from Weatherford. “That was a hell of a performance. I hope it gives him the confidence to play next year the way he played last night. If he carries that confidence with him, he'll be a really good one for a long time.”