NEW ORLEANS — The Sooners have maintained it over and over and over again since it was announced they’d play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes Benz-Superdome: the Tide are the best team in the country.
After all, they’ve won three National Titles in the last four seasons and the past two, despite falling short this season, prompting Sooner head coach Bob Stoops to say this is a measuring stick game on if OU is at the national level once again.
“How can it not be?” Stoops said. “You know, they’re a team that, quite frankly, people should still talk about them as the best team in the country. I mean, they were for the last three years up to the last play of the regular season, you know, and what an unusual play that was, so, in the end absolutely. They’ve been the top team in the country for now three years so it’s definitely that.”
Of course, the Tide failed and fell in the final second of the Iron Bowl against Auburn, who vaulted to next week’s Big Bowl, preventing them from a three-peat.
“Well, you know, Auburn won so they can’t be No. 1,” said linebacker Dominique Alexander, before adding, “But yeah, in a way they’re one play away from being in the National Championship or going to the SEC Championship and playing for a National Championship again. So, we know that so yeah, I guess you could say that [they’re the best in the country].”
Defensive end Geneo Grissom and linebacker Frank Shannon don’t disagree with much of that.
“Absolutely,” Grissom replied to the question of if they still consider them No. 1. “I feel, like you said, they’re only one play away from being in the National Championship so this is going to be a big test for us and I think we’re willing to step up to the plate.”
Said Shannon: “Of course. They are a top dog team. I like Alabama. They’re a pretty good team. I mean, it was just that one play that put them against us so we got to step up to the plate. We aren’t worried about it.”
But there’s no doubt it’s a stiff challenge.
The odds say so.
OU heads into Thursday’s game in the Bayou as a 15 ½-point dog, the second largest spread of any bowl game—Baylor is a 16 ½-point favorite in the largest one against Central Florida.
Thus, OU will have to bring its game in just about all facets in order to somehow escape with a victory.
“I think everybody would say they’re as good a football team as we’ve played in 15 years. How can you not? Like I said, they’re one second away from playing in a third straight National Championship game. So, they’re a great, great team with great talent and across the board and, again, very well coached.”
Stoops’ Sooners kick off against Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide at 7:30 p.m. CT Thursday.