Carrying it over into January, however, is the problem. The Sooners are 1-6 in January bowl games since winning the Rose Bowl to close the 2002 season. They’ve lost in three BCS championship games, two of three Fiesta Bowls and last year’s Cotton Bowl.
The competition tends to be pretty good in those games. But OU’s only win came in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl against a Connecticut squad that went 8-5 that season and hasn’t played in a bowl game since.
All those bowl losses are hard to forget. They’ve created the image of a program that doesn’t compete well in big bowl games.
It’s hard to shake because teams are remembered for what they do in big games. The audience doesn’t get any bigger than it does for major bowl games.
“I don’t want to finish anything like we did last year. It’s going to be a tough opponent, so I’m sure everybody is not really slacking off. I’m sure everybody’s working hard right now,” Colvin said.
The only way to change the perception is to win these major bowl games. Perhaps, the Sooners will benefit from the underdog label they have lacked against most of their predecessors. Alabama’s a two-touchdown favorite and one of the biggest bowl favorites of the season.
There are ample reasons for the Sooners’ underdog status: the Crimson Tide were one play away from playing for a third straight national championship. They haven’t lost a bowl game since the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
“We realize how talented they are,” center Gabe Ikard said. “Obviously we know that no one expects us to win, no one expects it to be a close game but none of that really matters to us. We’re going to prepare the same way, get ready for a great team. We respect them but we’re not scared to play them. They’re extremely talented, we realize that, but you’ve got to be confident going into a football game or else you’re going to get blown out.”
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