Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

January 2, 2014

Sooners, Tide offer up classic bowl matchup in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Bowl games began because schools with large fan bases were attractive to tourism-driven cities. Television got involved later and getting popular college football teams on the same field in early January became highly attractive.

Consider tonight’s Sugar Bowl meeting between No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) and No. 3 Alabama (11-1) a throwback to what bowl games once where and likely will be again with the BCS era coming to a close next week.

These are classic programs with iconic coaches, legendary players and, above all else, championship histories spread through generations.

“I’ll cherish this moment for the rest of my life,” OU defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue said.

Just look back on the Sooners’ last four bowl opponents — Texas A&M, Iowa, Connecticut and Stanford. Any of the those teams scream college football tradition?

Compare them with the Crimson Tide and their 10 national championships since 1961, 62 bowl appearances and their recent status as the dominant power in college football and you see where the excitement comes from.

In the Sooners’ case playing in a BCS bowl against anyone would be a thrill. They seemed to be left for dead following an early November loss to Baylor that dropped them to 7-2. They closed by beating Iowa State, then Kansas State and Oklahoma State — as road underdogs — to get here.

This game is viewed as the opportunity to show OU still is one of the elite programs in college football and as a way to build momentum for the 2014 season.   

“I embrace it. I appreciate it,” OU linebacker Eric Striker said. “I know we’re all happy to be here and we should take advantage of this opportunity. When I actually heard, I knew there was no other team I’d rather play than Alabama.”

The Crimson Tide’s motivation is the one in question. After all, it was hoping this would be the year it became college football’s first threepeat national champion.

But the loss to Auburn in the regular-season finale ended the national championship hopes and left it without a shot at the SEC title.

However, the thought of playing the Sooners — a program with seven national championships, five Heisman winners and a tradition that rivals Alabama’s is something to get excited about.

“I think it’s fantastic to be a part of something that has that kind of tradition, certainly makes it special to be a part of,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

For the Sooners at least, the esteem of the opponent has made this bowl trip — the program’s 15th straight and 47th overall — different than many others. Players have enjoyed their time in New Orleans, but the opportunity to play against the Crimson Tide was the biggest prize. Questions about mindset and preparation weren’t necessary.

“We know we have a big challenge, but very excited about the challenge,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. Our team is excited about the challenge of it. And we’ve worked hard to put ourselves in the position, hopefully, to win the game tomorrow.”

The ramifications of doing that would be a massive shot in the arm to OU. Seniors have talked about wanting to leave with the program heading on an upward track. Those returning see this as a chance to catapult the Sooners into the 2015 national championship discussions.

Big bowl games against perennial national title contenders create those scenarios. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

Both OU and Alabama have done it many times in the past. That’s why they’re two of college football’s most acclaimed programs.

You don’t get games like this often. Both are savoring the opportunity.

Text Only
Sports
  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Really one true champion?

    I decided to spare the colleagues in front of me – and myself from making a scene – by holding back flipping my table at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas.
    I had become exhausted by the constant use and misrepresentation by the Big 12 with their moniker of “One True Champion.” If they are going to live with the slogan, then they need to abide by that slogan.
    Perhaps its a simple case that they are keeping constant with the poor math of the 10-team Big 12 Conference.

    July 23, 2014

  • Hill expected to be used in multiple facets

    The picture became a little clearer recently of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 23, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks