Little-known QB lifts Oklahoma past 'Bama

Defensive back Zack Sanchez returns an interception to the Alabama 15, setting up an Oklahoma touchdown. Getty Images
Defensive back Zack Sanchez returns an interception to the Alabama 15, setting up an Oklahoma touchdown.Getty Images
Published January 3 2014

NEW ORLEANS — Freshman Trevor Knight passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns and No. 11 Oklahoma took down third-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl 45-31 Thursday night.

Knight's completion percentage entering the game was 52.2. He had completed 47 passes all season, but he had 32 against Alabama to set a Sugar Bowl record.

The victory was a sweet one for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who this past offseason called talk about the SEC being the best league in college football "propaganda," though before the game he said Alabama was still the best team in the country.

Oklahoma, a 16-point underdog, vanquished an Alabama squad that had been ranked No. 1 much of the past three seasons, winning the previous two national titles.

"I'm just proud of our guys,'' said Stoops, now the only coach to win all four BCS bowls (Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange) in the BCS era (1998). "They're a special group. I have the utmost respect for Alabama. It shows we can play with anybody.''

Stoops said the Sooners felt going in that the passing game could have success.

AJ McCarron passed for 387 yards and two touchdowns, but his two interceptions set up Oklahoma touchdowns. McCarron's fumble on a blindside hit in the final minute was returned for a score and sealed Alabama's first two-game skid since its Sugar Bowl loss to Utah in January 2009.

The Sugar Bowl's 80th edition marked the first in which both quarterbacks passed for 300-plus yards.

"It was confidence,'' Knight said of his game. "It's huge for our program to get a win like this after no one gave us a chance during the season.''

Stoops said of Knight, who was named the game MVP: "He lit it up. Exceptional.''

Oklahoma used Knight and junior Blake Bell at quarterback throughout the season, and it wasn't clear before the game who would start or how much either would play.

McCarron played his final game for the Crimson Tide, finishing 36-4 in three seasons as a starter.