1080 The FAN
Portland's All-Sports Station. You Know Us, We Know Sports!

Local: 503.250.1080
    Toll Free: 866.358.1080
| More
College Football
Scoreboard|Standings|Teams|Leaders|Polls
45
Sugar Bowl
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
14 17 0 14 45
10 7 7 7 31
31
5:30 PM PT6:30 PM MT7:30 PM CT8:30 PM ET1:30 AM GMT9:30 AM 北京时间6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST, Jan. 2, 2014
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana  Attendance: 70,473

Oklahoma beats Alabama 45-31 in Sugar Bowl

(AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

By BRETT MARTEL

AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Hello, Trevor. Farewell, AJ.

Trevor Knight's final start as a freshman sent Oklahoma's expectations soaring into 2014 while bringing a sour end to AJ McCarron's otherwise charmed Alabama career.

Knight completed a Sugar Bowl-record 32 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 11 Oklahoma took down the third-ranked Crimson Tide 45-31 on Thursday night.

"It's huge for our program, to get a win like this after no one gave us a chance all year," Knight said. "We've got to ride this into next year. We can't settle with this. ... We want the big one."

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops declined to announce a starting quarterback before the game, and when Knight took the field on the Sooners' first possession, Alabama's defenders couldn't have anticipated what was in store.

Knight's completion percentage entering the game was 52.2. He had completed 47 passes all season before a breakout performance in which two of his TDs went for more than 40 yards.

Oklahoma (11-2) needed him to play that well in the 80th Sugar Bowl, the first in which quarterbacks for both teams threw for more than 300 yards.

The victory was a sweet one for Stoops, who last offseason called talk about the Southeastern Conference being the best league in college football "propaganda."

"I have the utmost respect for Alabama, and I think this shows that obviously we can play with anybody," Stoops said. "So, enough of that. And I just watched them go through their entire conference and play pretty well. I'm not pointing any fingers. But I think sometimes the comparisons aren't necessarily very true."

His Big 12 team vanquished an Alabama (11-2) squad that had been ranked No. 1 much of the past three seasons, winning the previous two national titles before its shot at a third straight was derailed by rival Auburn on the last play of the Iron Bowl in late November.

But coach Nick Saban didn't buy the notion that his team, favored by 16 points, was too deflated from its loss to Auburn to play up to its standard.

"I actually thought that the players responded in practice pretty well for this game," Saban said. "We put over 500 yards of offense up. Somebody had to do something right. I don't think that we played as well on defense as we're capable of or should have."

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

"Put it all on me. I had two turnovers, (Oklahoma) ended up scoring 14 points, and we lost by 14," said McCarron, who won 36 of his first 38 games before losing his last two. "It's football. It happens. I wish it wouldn't have happened, but I'll definitely take the loss and definitely take the blame, because a lot of it is probably my fault."

Freshman Derrick Henry's 43-yard run in the third quarter pulled Alabama to 31-24, and the Crimson Tide forced four punts while giving up only one first down in the third quarter. But Alabama was unable to add another score before the Sooners starting moving the ball again.

Knight lofted a perfect pass to Lacoltan Bester for a 34-yard gain to the Alabama 9. Shortly after, Knight rolled left all the way to the sideline before rifling a touchdown strike to Sterling Shepard, making it a two-touchdown game again with 10:44 left.

"The game has started to slow down for him where he's really starting to feel comfortable in what he can do," Stoops said of Knight.

Henry, a 6-foot-3, 238-pound true freshman, pulled Alabama within a score once more when he turned his first career reception into a tackle-shedding, 61-yard TD with 6:22 still to go.

But Oklahoma was able to burn several minutes off the clock, and then the Sooners registered their seventh sack when Eric Striker stripped McCarron, and Geneo Grissom returned the ball 8 yards for a score.

Both teams entered the game with defenses ranked in the top 15 nationally, but quarterback play dominated a first half highlighted by five passing plays of 43 yards or longer, three of which went for scores.

Alabama took the opening kickoff and scored in four plays. McCarron hit Amari Cooper for 15 and 53 yards, and T.J. Yeldon ran it in from the 1.

Knight's first series ended when Alabama's Landon Collins made a diving interception of a tipped pass, but Oklahoma got it right back when Gabe Lynn picked off McCarron's pass on the next play. One play later, Knight found Bester down the right sideline for a 45-yard score.

The Sooners took their first lead when Knight found Jalen Saunders, who reached the ball across the goal line as he was being brought down.

"It's all about just getting in that rhythm, hitting a few shots early," Knight said. "The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you are."

McCarron's pinpoint pass over the middle to DeAndrew White for a 67-yard TD restored Alabama's lead early in the second quarter.

The Sooners tied it at 17 on Michael Hunnicutt's 47-yard field goal, then cashed in on two more turnovers.

Alabama appeared on the verge of a go-ahead score when Yeldon fumbled on the 8. The Sooners then reached midfield, where they converted a fourth-and-1. On the next play, Knight hit Saunders in stride down the right sideline for a 43-yard score.

McCarron's second interception, snagged by Zack Sanchez and returned to the 13, set up Shepard's 13-yard TD around right end.

Updated January 3, 2014

w10 © 2015 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

The Fan's Top Stories

NBA Playoffs on The FAN


The FAN is your home for the NBA Playoffs. Listen to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals with ESPN, and follow The FAN's AP NBA Page for previews and recaps.

NFL to change extra-point kicks to longer distance


(AP) The NFL is moving back extra-point kicks and allowing defenses to score on conversion turnovers. The owners on Tuesday approved the competition committee's proposal to . . . more.

Golfers scoff at Chambers Bay warnings


(AP) Mike Davis hasn't caused this much consternation since he spoke at a PGA Tour players meeting about the evils of the long putter. Only this time, he was extolling the virtues . . . more.

Kraft: Patriots won't appeal


(AP) Now that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is not appealing his team's punishments in the deflated footballs scandal, only his quarterback's challenge remains. More.

Gasol to consider free agency options


(AP) The Memphis Grizzlies head into the offseason with a major goal: re-signing their free agent All-Star center. Marc Gasol is in no hurry, he's on his own timetable. More.

Aldridge has thumb surgery


(AP) Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge had surgery Monday to repair a ligament in his left thumb. The team said in a statement that . . . more.

Carroll: Irvin's comments misinterpreted


(AP) Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin's recent declaration that he would be playing in Atlanta in 2016 doesn't mean what everyone thinks it does, according to coach Pete . . . more.

NCAA body calls for 30-second shot clock


(AP) The NCAA made a series of changes to men's college basketball two seasons ago in an attempt to boost scoring and reduce physical play under the basket. More.

49ers DL Justin Smith retires


(AP) When Justin Smith decided that his body wouldn't let him perform up to his own lofty standards, he knew it was time to stop playing. Smith announced Monday that he is . . . more.

The Mariners Page


For the latest on M's Baseball, including player moves, previews, real time gamecasts and recaps, head to The FAN's Mariners Page.

The FAN's Golf Page


The FAN's Golf Page is where you can go for the latest AP coverage of the PGA, LPGA, Web.Com, European and Champion's Tour info. From leader boards to stories, it's all right here.