NEW ORLEANS — A day earlier, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he didn’t know how to play the underdog card. Luckily for him, his team knew exactly how to play it.
The Sooners were aggressive, opportunistic and above all else confident Thursday in the Sugar Bowl against No. 3 Alabama.
The mixture snowballed into a 45-31 victory over the Crimson Tide, securing the biggest upset victory in Sooner history.
“We played how we expected to play, to be quite honest,” Stoops said. “And again you’ve heard me start off by saying I’ve got the absolute utmost respect for Alabama. But we have a lot of confidence in what we do, too.”
But there were emphatic reasons No. 11 OU (11-2) entered the game as a 17-point underdog — one of the biggest underdogs of the bowl season. One was Alabama’s long string of demolishing opponents in January under coach Nick Saban, a proven quarterback (A.J. McCarron) who had led it to back-to-back national championships and a defensive tradition of suffocating any offense if given a month to prepare.
But the Sooners used the 31⁄2 weeks to to rewrite the script. Quarterback Trevor Knight put on a star-making performance, throwing for four touchdowns and 348 yards. In every sense, he was the quarterback OU billed him to be in late August.
OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel threw the kitchen sink at Alabama and started tossing the pipes in as well. The Sooners unveiled a plethora of new formations, huddled for the first time in years along with playing up-tempo in the first half.
“Throughout the bowl preparation we had the plan of going fast, putting in a few new wrinkles with the huddles there,” Knight said. “I felt when we came out from the very beginning it was working for us, and we kept going with it. It easily could not have worked and (we could have gone) back to our old stuff but I felt like our plan was great.