Sugar Bowl matches No. 3 Alabama, No. 11 Oklahoma

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm •  Published: December 8, 2013
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Stoops downplayed the notion that his team might have some type of mental edge because it's coming off an emotional victory over an in-state rival while Alabama is recovering from a devastating loss to its rival.

"It might make a difference if we were playing next week, but the fact that there's so much time in between, I don't think it's a factor at all," Stoops said.

Stoops now has an opportunity to change his recent luck in bowl games against SEC opponents. Oklahoma ended the 2003 season with a 21-14 Sugar Bowl loss to LSU, capped the 2008 season with a 24-14 BCS championship game loss to Florida and fell 41-13 to Texas A&M in last season's Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma had won three straight bowl games — all against non-SEC teams — before its Cotton Bowl loss last year.

Alabama might provide the toughest challenge of all those SEC opponents. Stoops showered praise on Alabama during a Sunday night teleconference and called Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron the best player in the country.

"I think it's just incredible what Nick Saban and Alabama have done the last three or four years," Stoops said. "They've been No. 1 in the country for like four years. We get it, we understand what a challenge it is, but we're excited about it."

These two storied programs will be facing each other for only the fifth time ever. Oklahoma leads the series 2-1-1 and beat Alabama 20-13 when they last met in 2003 at Tuscaloosa. Two of their prior meetings came in bowl games. Oklahoma and Alabama tied 24-24 in the 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl. Alabama beat Oklahoma 17-0 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1963.

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