Alabama vs Oklahoma matches SEC against Big 12 in Sugar Bowl

By Dave Friedman
While college football coaches are always busy, fans get bored between the end of the bowl games and start of the new season. The media tries very hard to keep listeners, readers, and viewers engaged even when no games are taking place. That led to a brief spat this past off-season between Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Alabama’s Nick Saban. Whether the words they exchanged last spring mean anything when it comes to the two coaches meeting in next months Sugar Bowl remains to be seen.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama plays Oklahoma
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama plays Oklahoma
Stoops, who is 159-39 in 15 seasons at Oklahoma, showed frustration with the perception of the SEC in May.

“Listen, they’ve had the best team in college football, meaning they’ve won the national championship,” said Stoops. “That doesn’t mean everything else is always the best.”

What seemed to irk Stoops the most was the changing narrative about how SEC teams wins.

“Just a few years ago, we had all the quarterbacks,” Stoops said. “And now, all of a sudden, we can play a little better defense and some other people can’t play defense.”

He went on illustrate his point by looking at Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

“I still don’t know how (Texas) A&M was third in the country in total offense and scoring offense playing all those SEC defenses. I have no idea how that happened,” Stoops said. “Oh, they got a quarterback. That’s right.”

Saban, 79-14 at Alabama, opted to quickly dismiss Stoops’ comments.

I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything,” said Saban.

After it was announced that the two teams would square off in the Sugar Bowl, the barbs earlier this year were seemingly forgotten.

“To play someone that has a tradition and respect that we have for the University of Oklahoma is a real honor for our team,” said Saban. “Coach Bob Stoops is obviously done a fantastic job there. He’s a good friend and we really respect all that he’s done, so this should be a great game for the city of New Orleans and for the Allstate Sugar Bowl.”

Both Stoops, and his brother Mike, who serves as the Sooners defensive coordinator, now seem to respect the Crimson Tide and SEC.

“The athletes they have down there, the coaches they have down there, it’s rated as the top conference in college football for many years, have won seven national championships, have a chance to win eight,” said Mike. “They’re great athletes. Every time you step on the field with a Southeastern Conference team, they’re very well coached and they play very hard.

“Just fundamental, sound, great players, force great schemes,” said Bob.. “I appreciate it. I appreciate good football, and they play it, and they play it the right way.”

While Alabama’s lone setback came on the final play of the Iron Bowl against Auburn, Oklahoma dropped their rivalry game to Texas 36-20 on October 12. The Sooners only other defeat came at the hands of Baylor 41-12 on November 7. The last time the two teams met in the post-season, the Sooners and Crimson Tide played to a 24 all tie on New Years Eve 1970 in the Bluebonnet Bowl. The two teams last regular season matchup was a 20-13 Oklahoma victory in 2003.

2 thoughts on “Sugar Bowl: An early look at Alabama vs Oklahoma”

  1. I can’t wait.

    I think both coaches had their quotes blown up a little bit too much. Nick Saban doesn’t read what Stoops has to say, but he doesn’t read what anyone else has to say.
    Stoops’s dig at SEC defenses frankly I don’t think it wrong, it’s just not pointed in the right direction. The difference is the SEC was overwhelmed with elite, experienced QB talent.

    Think about this; AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel, Bo Wallace, and Connor Shaw. All of them have broken records across the SEC and their own universities. And this was the last year for all of them. The QB play was sensational last year and even better this year.

    That doesn’t correlate necesarily with the defenses being elite, but in Alabama’s case it isn’t a coincidence. TAMU put up points, but so did Alabama, who emerged with the victory.

    Hopefully it won’t come down to coaching quotes from 9-16 months ago in the media. I can’t blame Stoops for thinking the SEC gets too much attention. Maybe they do. But he’s got a great team. I just don’t think they stand a chance against a talented, deep, hungry Alabama football team after the most inexcusable and significant loss in the history of the sport. Stoops will bring his A-game, just like everybody else does for Alabama. Frankly, we’re lucky as fans to get such a good opponent. I can’t wait.

  2. I was really worried we would be stuck playing Central Florida. Playing Oklahoma makes it seem a lot more meaningful. RTR

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