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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Alabama heads to the Sugar Bowl facing the same kind of challenge it encountered the last time the Crimson Tide played in this game.

They will need to stay motivated after their national title hopes have vanished.

Alabama was atop the polls all season and seemed headed toward a shot at a third straight national title before falling 34-28 to No. 2 Auburn. The third-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1) instead will face No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 at New Orleans. The game is sponsored by Allstate.

"Even though there is some disappointment in terms of how we finished our season this year, we're not disappointed at all in the opportunity that we have to play in the Sugar Bowl and to play against a great team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I'm hopeful that our team will look at this as a challenge and an opportunity for them to prove the kind of football team we can be."

Alabama faced a similar situation five years ago.

When it earned that Sugar Bowl invitation in 2008, Alabama had just lost the SEC title to Florida with a BCS championship game appearance at stake. Alabama fell behind 21-0 to Utah and went on to lose 31-17. The Tide had a more pleasant Superdome postseason memory when they capped their 2012 national title with a 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS championship game.

"How (this) team recovers and how that team goes and takes the challenge of this game is going to say a lot about the character and the leadership this team has," Saban said.

Oklahoma won't have to worry about motivation.

The Sooners' national title hopes were long gone when they boosted their chances for a BCS at-large invitation Saturday with a 33-24 victory at Oklahoma State, which fell from No. 6 to No. 13 after the loss. The Sugar Bowl invited Oklahoma over No. 10 Oregon (10-2), which also had a strong case for a BCS bid.

"Everybody just kept grinding, kept fighting, kept believing," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "We've had a great attitude and a tough, hard-working group of players all along."



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