NEW ORLEANS (AP) — 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 Auburn on the last play of the Iron Bowl in late November.