Alabama's mindset will definitely be interesting. When last we saw the Tide, they lost to Auburn on a last-play, 109-yard return of a missed field goal. OU climbed a mighty mountain to make the Sugar Bowl. Bama fell to the Sugar Bowl.
Of course, Bob Stoops isn't publicly acknowledging the chip on the shoulder. Says he hasn't used disrespect as motivation for this squad.
“I don't see that, not at a place like Oklahoma,” Stoops said. “That isn't something that we've ever done. I don't know how to do that, to be quite honest with you. That's not one of our motivational methods ... it's not a card that I play.”
Maybe not. But his brother concedes the existence of such a catalyst. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops recalled the Florida State Orange Bowl 13 years ago, when the Sooners won as 12-point underdogs.
“Reminiscing a little bit, it just made our players pay more attention to detail, prepare to understand what they need to do and understand the challenge,” Brother Mike said. “And it's a pride thing.
“So the players have prepared well. They've looked at it as a great opportunity to see where we're at against the elite program in college football, and that's how you go into this game. There's nobody fearful, that's for sure.”
Of course, it would be wrong to believe that Alabama has nothing on the line in the Sugar Bowl.
“If we come out there and dominate in this game, we can still be looked at as the best team in the country, and that is what motivates me,” said Bama receiver Amari Cooper.
Plus, the Tide is like any team in a bowl game. Its seniors, having realized the finish line is near, will be galvanized.
“It's really important for us to go out with a bang,” said receiver Kevin Norwood. “Me and AJ (McCarron, quarterback) came in together. We've spent five long, hard years here. It's just important to us to go out with a bang and finish our year strong.”
But the Sooners know a little something about finishing strong. Left for dead on Nov. 7 in Waco, they've done more than salvage a season since. With wins at Kansas State and OSU, they set the stage for something special.
Heck, the Sooners even were double-digit underdogs in Stillwater. And won the ballgame.
They wear that U quite well.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.