The Oklahoma Sooners vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Sugar Bowl game was expected to be a showcase for Alabama, who many felt were good enough to be in the national championship game. However, the Sooners beat up the Crimson Tide and won the game by two touchdowns, 45-31, giving Oklahoma a huge win over the best team in the nation on Jan. 2. Here is a look at the players of the game for the Oklahoma vs. Alabama Sugar Bowl game.
Heading into the Sugar Bowl, no one knew who the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners was going to be. Blake Bell and Trevor Knight have fought all season for the starting role, but it was Knight that head coach Bob Stoops went with in this game. It was a perfect choice. His legs were expected to give Alabama problems, as they have struggled with mobile quarterbacks all season, but Stoops let Knight use his arm - something that was a weak point all season. Trevor Knight threw four touchdowns - a Sooners' bowl game record - and 348 yards - the most of his career. It was a perfect performance.
AJ McCarron came into the game as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. He ended up throwing two interceptions and fumbling the ball at the end of the game. He was also sacked a season high seven times. The Crimson Tide fumbled the ball two more times in the game for a total of five turnovers. The player who started it all was Gabe Lynn, who picked off McCarron in the first quarter and helped OU tie the game up on the very next play. Lynn set the pace for the defense.
Every time Bob Stoops is asked about hsi defense, he talks about Eric Striker. There is a good reason for that. In this game, Striker led the Sooners with seven solo tackles and he sacked McCarrron three times on blitzes. He forced a fumble and was a big reason that McCarron was running all game long and threw those two interceptions. He was also responsible for the final fumble of the game. Striker was a huge play maker in this game.
Alabama had one chance left at the end of the game, down by one touchdown, with one minute remaining. Alabama faithful knew their team was good enough to tie the game up. However, Striker blitzed in and hit McCarron, causing a fumble, which Geneo Grissom picked up and ran to the end zone, extending himself to reach it over the goal line for the final touchdown of the game to finish off Alabama. Grissom finished with two tackles, two sacks, and two fumble recoveries in the game. He just had a nose for the ball.
Back on offense, Sterling Shepard was a house of fire in the game. The young man who wears his late father's OU jersey number had to make his family proud in this game. He finished with seven receptions, a team high for Sooners' receivers, for 63 yards and a touchdown. He also ran three reverses for 18 yards. While LaColton Bester had more yards (105) and Jalen Saunders had more touchdowns (2), it was Shepard that was called on when the Sooners needed those extra yards and he never disappointed.