Oklahoma fighting uphill battle against Alabama in Sugar Bowl

01/02/2014 12:00 AM

01/01/2014 9:51 PM

Allstate Sugar Bowl

No. 11 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Alabama

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

TV: ESPN

Records: Oklahoma 10-2, 7-2 Big 12; Alabama 11-1, 7-1 SEC

Key points: Alabama spent nearly the entire season as the favorite to win a third straight BCS National Championship. But after a disastrous ending against Auburn in the Iron Bowl, the Crimson Tide fell out of the SEC title game and into the Sugar Bowl. Alabama is second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 11.3 points per game. Oklahoma has struggled offensively at times. Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson have rotated at quarterback for the Sooners, and Thursday’s starter is still unannounced. On the other side, Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron, a Heisman finalist this year after throwing for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns, will wrap up his stellar career. In Oklahoma’s last Sugar Bowl appearance in 2004, the Sooners lost to Nick Saban’s LSU Tigers 21-14. In 2009, Alabama fell to the Sugar Bowl after losing the SEC Championship and was upset 31-17 by Utah.

Tarrant ties: Alabama senior kicker Cade Foster played at Southlake Carroll. Crimson Tide freshman defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson (Arlington Heights) played in all 12 games and had 36 total tackles, seven for loss with 5.5 sacks. Freshman defensive back Zack Sanchez (Keller Central) started all 12 games and totaled 43 tackles for the Sooners. Oklahoma sophomore offensive lineman Nila Kasitati (Euless Trinity) played in all 12 games. Junior defensive end Rashod Favors (Fort Worth Dunbar) played in all 12 games, freshman defensive tackle Chase Frazier went to Grapevine and freshman quarterback Cody Thomas was a standout at Colleyville Heritage.

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