By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
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, marking one of the few times the 11th-ranked Sooners (11-2) have pulled off a major upset.
Three of the major reasons OU entered the game as a 17-point underdog — one of the biggest of the bowl season — was Alabama's long string of demolishing opponents in January under Nick Saban. A proven quarterback (A.J. McCarron) who had led it to back-to-back national championships. A defensive tradition of mastering offenses if given a month to prepare.
But the Sooners were the team that used the 3 1/2 weeks to prepare 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.
McCarron threw for 387 yards, but he was sacked seven times and also threw two interceptions.
It was the turnovers — four in total — and eight sacks that were the Sooners’ salvation. Defensive end Geneo Grissom, who was the game’s defensive MVP, scooped up two fumbles with the last coming after OU linebacker Eric Striker stripped McCarron with 50 seconds to go and Grissom returned it 8 yards for a touchdown. Defensive backs Zack Sanchez and Gabe Lynn also had interceptions.
The Sooners won despite giving up 516 yards of total offense and a riverboat full of missed tackles.
It didn’t matter when the confetti starting raining down on the Superdome late Thursday night. The Sooners, who have a well-chronicled history over BCS busts over the last decade, were celebrating one of the biggest wins in the program’s history.