Sugar Bowl Report Card: Sooners pass the Tide's test

by Berry Tramel Published: January 3, 2014


photo - Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard (3) scores a touchdown during the NCAA football BCS Sugar Bowl game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (UA) at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.  .Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard (3) scores a touchdown during the NCAA football BCS Sugar Bowl game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (UA) at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. .Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Coin flip: B. The Sugar Bowl takes its sponsorship seriously. It had actor Dennis Haybert, the commanding presence of those Allstate commercials, flip the coin. Too bad Geico doesn't sponsor the game. The Cockney-accented gecko could have walked out to midfield.

Receivers: A. Saunders and Shepard were playmakers supreme. Saunders had five catches for 75 yards and two TDs; Shepard had seven catches for 63 yards and a TD, plus a running touchdown. But they got some help. Lacoltan Bester was superb, with six catches for 105 yards, a touchdown and the game's biggest play, a 34-yard reception on a third-and-15 play in the fourth quarter, setting up a touchdown. Seldom-used Derrick Woods made a leaping catch for 20 yards on third-and-12. Even tight ends Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara each had a catch.

Secondary: B. OU's defensive backs had a rough start. They failed to corral 'Bama's receivers early in the game on quick throws, and then they were beaten deep by some McCarron long balls. But Tide receivers increasingly were well-covered, causing some of the sacks. Gabe Lynn had a first-quarter interception, then Zack Sanchez jumped a McCarron slant pass for a second-quarter interception that sent momentum cascading OU's way.

Offensive line: B. The patched-together OU line didn't open a ton of holes, but it opened some. Sooner tailbacks and flankers rushed 24 times for 77 yards. And while Knight's protection withered the longer the game went, it held up early as he found a hot hand.


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...
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