In its last year of existence, the BCS got one final chance to drop a deuce in the college football punch bowl. With the Sugar Bowl’s selection of at-large candidate Oklahoma to face Alabama, it succeeded.
The bowl's executives are undoubtedly pleased with the prospect of Sooner Nation sucking up all those tickets, hotel rooms and hurricanes. Safe to say, though, that aside from non-OU fans who are dying to see Bob Stoops get a Crimson Tide haymaker to his big mouth, Oregon-Alabama presents the more compelling match-up.
Ducks-Tide is West Coast versus Deep South, new age versus old school, street agents versus $100 handshakes. Alabama-Oklahoma is… well, oddsmakers have the Tide as high as 17-point favorites.
Rooting interests aside, I know which game I’d rather watch.
Oklahoma is heading to New Orleans for all the reasons that critics of college football’s postseason loathe. It’s not about merit. The Sooners have a reputation for traveling better than the Ducks. End of story.
But when I say “Oklahoma has no business being in a BCS bowl,” you could read that another way, too. Stoops has had nine teams in 15 seasons qualify for BCS games, and this one ranks among the most unlikely.
Between injuries at key spots, suspensions and a spotty quarterback situation, this season was begging for the Sooners to pack it in. Instead, they ended up winning their 10th game of the year on the road in a rivalry game against a good Oklahoma State team. Knock them if you’d like for an inflated record in a weak Big 12, but they also went out of conference and won at Notre Dame in September. (Ask Michigan State how that goes.)
The OU fans I’ve spoken with aren’t harboring unrealistic expectations about the Sooners’ chances of beating Alabama. Loss or no, ‘Bama arguably remains the best team in the country. There just aren’t many teams out there that can hang with the Tide.
Even if you buy that Stoops’ teams tend to be at their best when nothing is expected from them, that kind of motivation only gets you so far. Still, I can’t wait to watch the Sooners give it a shot. I’d guess the team is looking forward to the opportunity, too.
Yes, this game will most likely end in another BCS game loss and more jabs at Oklahoma and Stoops. They’ll primarily come from fans of programs that window shop for 10-win seasons, let alone conference championships and national titles.
If they’re tired of watching “Chokelahoma” get these kinds of opportunities, they should encourage their teams to win more games. It seems to work pretty well for the Sooners.