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Sugar Bowl Sooner Report
December 30, 2013

Best of the BCS
Since the start of the 2008 season, Oklahoma has amassed a 62-17 record for a .785 winning percentage, placing it third among all BCS conference schools during that time frame. The top spot is owned by none-other than Alabama (72-8, .900).

At Monday morning’s press conference for the OU offense, running back Brennan Clay and wide receiver Jalen Saunders offered their perspective on the two tradition-rich programs meeting in such a big game.

“[Alabama] has a dominant run game and do what they can with it. If we come out with a victory, it definitely puts us at a high benchmark – that we are definitely a national championship-caliber team,” stated Clay.

“We don’t meet up that often. This is only our fifth time meeting up in program history. We are real excited about this opportunity,” added Saunders.

The success of the two programs have run parallel throughout their respected history’s with Alabama claiming nine AP National Championships and Oklahoma seven. The Sooners are college football’s all-time leader with 35 seasons of 10 or more victories, while the Crimson Tide is second with 33. The two teams boast the highest total of bowl games won by opponents in any game at 62. Oklahoma has won 27 and Alabama 35.

Over the last four seasons, the Sooners and Crimson Tide are two of only four schools to have won 10 or more games since 2010. Oregon and Stanford join them on the list with 46 wins each over that span. Alabama is 50-3 overall in the last four season, including a perfect 14-0 2010 season, and Oklahoma is 42-10 with a single season-high of 12 win during that stretch in 2010, which culminated in a win over Connecticut in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

Stoops in the BCS
Dating back to Oklahoma’s 2000 National Championship, no school owns more BSC bowl appearances than Oklahoma under head coach Bob Stoops with nine. Ohio State ranks second with eight, followed by Florida State at seven. Stoops is the only coach to reach all four BSC games and the National Championship.

A win over Alabama, would also make Stoops the only coach to win each of the four BCS bowl games plus a National Championship.

Team Record Pct. Head Coach
1. Alabama 72-8 .900 Nick Saban
2. Oregon 66-12 .846 Chip Kelly/Mark Helfrich
3. Oklahoma 62-17 .785   Bob Stoops
4. Florida State   60-20 .750 Bobby Bowden/Jimbo Fisher  
4. LSU 60-20 .750 Les Miles

Sooners Bring Out Smiles at Ochsner
Following Monday morning’s team activities, head coach Bob Stoops and a busload of Sooner student-athletes and paid a visit to the Ochsner Medical Center in nearby Jefferson, La. where they spent time with patients and staff at Children’s Health Center. Brennan Clay waged a video game football game battle on X-Box with several young patients, while Coach Stoops and players made the rounds of the children’s ward.

“I think it’s important for the players to have an opportunity to share a little bit of joy with some of these children,” said Stoops. “We’d like to take their mind off their troubles and their pain for a little bit and help them smiles too. It was fun to be able to come here for a short time.”

“It was great to get a way for a little bit and visit with the kids and see the joy on their faces,” said quarterback Trevor Knight. “It was nice. I went into a few rooms to visit with kids and brought them a hat and a ball. Seeing the smile on their faces when we came in was really humbling.”

“[The experience] was good. We got to go around and put some smiles on kid’s faces,” added offensive lineman Austin Woods, who waged his own successful battle with cancer a year ago. “It’s always good to brighten their day up. [This visit] puts things in perspective. I’m glad we are able to , use our platform, as OU football players, to go out and visit these kids and brighten up their day.”

Oklahoma’s Run to New Orleans
Clay leads the Sooner rushing attack with 913 net yards, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry to go with six touchdowns. He is one of six OU players with 100 or more yards this season. Knight is third on the team with 438 yards, averaging 7.1 per carry, despite appearing in just seven games.

Oklahoma ranks 12th in the country with eight games of 200 rushing yards or more. The Sooners are 8-0 and averaging 235.8 yards per game in those contests.

The success and depth of the run game is complimented by an offensive line that has found cohesiveness despite battling injuries late in the seasons.

“We’ve battled through some injuries and adversity through the entire year,” said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel of the offensive line. “Their ability to communicate, be on the same page and work cohesively is going to be critical in this football game.”

The shuffling of personnel on the offensive line is just part of playing the game according to center Gabe Ikard. “The way I see it is, you’ve got to be ready to play with what you’ve got,” stated the senior captain. “It’s important for us to be ready to go either way. We’ve got talented guy up front that will be ready to play.”

The Sooner’s rushing differential ranks 14th in the FBS at +97.5 yards per game, while Alabama is 12th at +103.7. Rushing differential is the measured difference between net rushing yards gained and net rushing yards allowed as tracked by STATS, LLC.

2013 FBS, RUSHING DIFFERENTIAL LEADERS:

Team YPG Own Opp. Total
1. Ohio State +214.9 4128 1334 +2794
2. Georgia Tech +204.7 3740 1284 +2456
3. Wisconsin +181.7 3396 1216 +2180
12. Alabama +103.7  2544 1300 +1244
13. Michigan State  +101.3 2368 1051 +1317
14. Oklahoma +97.5 2830  1660  +1170 

Oklahoma’s explosiveness in the run-game has been evident in its 85 rushing plays of 10 or more yards after registering just 62 such runs through its first 12 games in 2012. That translates to 7.1 “explosive” runs per game in 2013 compared to 5.2 a year ago.

OKLAHOMA LEADERS, 10+ RUNS

Player 10+ Runs Long TD
1. RB Brennan Clay   23 76 6
2. QB Trevor Knight 16 56 2
3. QB Blake Bell 15 27 0

Mike Stoops’ Scouting Report on Crimson Tide
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops knows his squad will face of one of the most physical offensive units they’ve seen all season when the Sooners meet Alabama on Thursday. Here is what Stoops had to say about the Crimson Tide:

“Offensively, they are probably the most complete or they are the most complete team we have faced when you look at the offensive line, you look at the skill, you look at the running backs, you look at the tight ends, they present huge challenges across the board.  They make you defend the football field a little differently than a lot of teams we see in our conference. So that physicality that they can play with along with their speed on the perimeter, their running backs present, it will be a big challenge for our defense across the board.  This will be the most physical game that we have played all year. So that's the part that's probably a little bit different than what we see in our league as to the way they come at you run at you downhill and that's definitely something we'll have to be ready for. And those are things that we've worked hard on and hopefully will be prepared once Thursday night comes around.”

High Praise For Alabama’s Mosely
Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell owns the distinction of coaching in both the Super Bowl and a BCS National Championship Game. That background has given him some unique perspective on Alabama’s formidable linebacker, C.J. Mosley.

“He's a fabulous, fabulous player. I had a chance to coach in the NFL and played against Ray Lewis, and he's similar in his ability to communicate, his sense, his football senses, the way he sees the field, gets everybody lined up.  He's a really good football player and as good a linebacker as we've seen this year, and we've got to do a great job of understanding where he's at and making sure we block him. It's important that we cover him up and we don't let him be a factor more than he's going to be.  And obviously as Josh mentioned, we want to run the football.  That's where our success has been. So being able to handle him and the people up front will be critical for our success.  He's a complete football player and that's one thing, when we played Ray Lewis when I was in National Football League, I was just amazed where he always seemed to be in the right position all the time.  That's the way Mosley is.  He has played that way consistently.  And it's a real credit to him and that defense and leading the defense the way he handles himself.”

Sooner Schedule
Oklahoma continues practicing at the indoor facility of the New Orleans on Tuesday, where the Sooners have worked out since their Big Easy arrival on Friday. Numerous Saints VIPs have stopped by, including head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees, as well as former Sooners Kenny Stills and Curtis Lofton.

On Wednesday, the Sooners will conduct a walk-through at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome prior to playing in that facility against Alabama on Thursday evening. 

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