Alabama’s Sugar Bowl soured by Sooners
By Charlie Potter | Sports Editor
NEW ORLEANS—The No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide fell to the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners 45-31 Thursday night in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
But it wasn’t because of Alabama’s offense that the Crimson Tide fell short for a second consecutive game. The offense was downright explosive, posting 516 yards of total offense compared to 429 from the Sooners.
Freshman running back Derrick Henry had a coming out party, as he rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He also scored on a 61-yard receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Senior quarterback AJ McCarron set a career best with 387 passing yards while becoming the school record holder in passing yards in a single season with 3,063.
But it was McCarron’s two costly interceptions that led to points for Oklahoma and inconsistent play from Alabama’s defense that led to a Sugar Bowl letdown.
“Put it all on me. I had two turnovers, ended up scoring 14 points, and we lost by 14,” McCarron said. “So, you know, 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.”
However, senior wide receiver Kevin Norwood disagreed with the fifth-year signal caller.
“It’s not just a one-man team. We all win and lose together. AJ can’t put it all on himself. I can’t let him do that,” Norwood said. “There’s times I could have batted the ball down. There’s a time where I could have saved the block from when [Christion Jones] was going on the punt return. It’s not all on AJ. It’s all on us, and we didn’t come out and play like we should.”
Ultimately, five turnovers soured the Crimson Tide’s chances of a 12-win season.
It didn’t help that redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight had the game of his life, picking apart Alabama’s secondary and throwing for 348 yards on 32-of-44 passing and four touchdowns.
“As a team we didn’t play well enough to win, and Oklahoma really outplayed us,” coach Nick Saban said. “And I really can’t blame it on the lack of focus. I just don’t think that our players realized sometimes that they won so much that they realize sometimes what it really takes to win every game and that you can never take anything for granted, and that everyone that plays us has something to prove. And they have to change the way they think, and that’s difficult to do.”