Oklahoma football: With a stunning upset of Alabama, Sooners show they're back

COMMENTARY — With an epic Sugar Bowl victory, Oklahoma struck a blow not to the SEC's soft middle but to its best program.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 3, 2014

NEW ORLEANS — Alabama's horde was giving chase, and Trevor Knight rolled right. And rolled right. And rolled right.

Seemed to be headed for the mighty Mississipp.

Finally, Knight threw the ball. But not away. He turned his body and threw back against the grain.

No one in Bama crimson, no one in the Superdome, no one watching at home, could believe Knight would throw that pass.

Believe it. Sterling Shepard caught the nine-yard touchdown pass, the Sooners had a 14-point lead and eventually a 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama that no one saw coming but we certainly see going.

And this is what we see.

The Sooners are back. Back on the national stage, with a young quarterback who just played a game for the ages and a bunch of players back in 2014 and a trophy to hang on their wall that matches any in OU history, shy of a national championship.

“They didn't believe in us,” said OU defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue. “Everybody doubted us. Everybody said they were gods. We shut that up. We pulled it off.”

OU, a 16 1/2-point underdog, won this game with Knight's uncanny passing, and defensive ferocity that threw Bama superstar quarterback AJ McCarron off his game, and a desire to quiet the critics who claimed the 11th-ranked Sooners were fodder for a Bama team angry that it got knocked out of the Big Bowl.

“Our kids came here to play the game, and not just a series or a play,” said OU receivers coach Jay Norvell. “You don't play the game in the newspapers or in the prognosticators. You play it on the field. That's how we did. We came here to play the game on the field and see what happens, and by God, it was an awesome thing.”

Awesome it was. Bama was tough, but so were the Sooners. They sacked McCarron seven times, intercepted two of his passes and produced four turnovers.

Alabama was bigger, but OU was better. At least on this night. And now the future seems brighter than the past.

A Sooner program that has won just one outright Big 12 title in the last five years and was playing in just its second BCS bowl during that time, announced its return to national contention.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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