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Oklahoma football: Why the Sooners are looking like a 2014 contender after Sugar Bowl win

After a win over Alabama and a pair of big-time commitments, the 2014 season appears to be Oklahoma's most anticipated since 2009, when quarterback Sam Bradford was returning after winning the Heisman Trophy.
by Jason Kersey Published: January 4, 2014

— Four days after Baylor routed Oklahoma 41-12, causing widespread panic throughout Sooner Nation, coach Bob Stoops was asked to assess the state of his program.

OU hadn't won an outright Big 12 championship since 2010, didn't have a clear offensive identity and wasn't landing the big-time recruits it once did.

“Seven-and-2 and working to the end of the year,” Stoops tersely responded. “Just co-champs a year ago, right? What else do you want to know? We won it in 2010 and tied it in 2012 and we're going through '13.

“I think there are only 4-5 teams that have won more games over the past five years. I believe that's right. If that's not the answer you are looking for, I'm not sure. It seems like every time you lose a game, it's like ‘Oh geez, the sky is falling.'”

In the less than two months since that statement, Oklahoma went on a four-game winning streak — capped by a stunning 45-31 Sugar Bowl upset of No. 3 Alabama — and now seems like a legitimate 2014 national-title contender. And in the two days after their bowl victory, the Sooners have scored a pair of major recruiting victories.

Five-star running back Joe Mixon announced Saturday that he would sign with Oklahoma, and on Friday, four-star Jenks defensive tackle Marquise Overton committed to the Sooners for next year's recruiting class.

Mixon's announcement came during the fourth quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Game, after which he was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder from Oakley, Calif., is ranked by Rivals as the nation's top all-purpose back, and picked Oklahoma over California, Wisconsin and UCLA.

“Once they won that Alabama game, that sealed the deal,” Mixon said after his announcement on NBC. “Now I'm a Sooner. Let's get it.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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