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Sugar Bowl Preview: #11 Oklahoma vs. #3 Alabama

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The Sooners and Crimson Tide meet Thursday night in what could be the best Sugar Bowl in a while.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama had bigger things in mind than a Sugar Bowl appearance this year, and if it wasn't for the most ridiculous play I've ever seen, they'd be in Pasadena as I write this. However, a threepeat wasn't in the cards, and the Crimson Tide have to "settle" for taking on Oklahoma in New Orleans on Thursday night.

If you haven't seen the play that killed Bama's SEC and National Title hopes, here it is.

Quite the ridiculous play, no?

Meanwhile, Oklahoma had quarterback issues all season, constantly waffling back and forth between Blake Bell and Trevor Knight, neither of whom seemed particularly interested in throwing the ball. However they found themselves running passing plays often, because despite their running ability, OU's coaching staff stubbornly insisted they attack teams through the air (sound familiar?).

Front and center tonight will be the "disappointed Alabama" theme. We saw it last night as Baylor collapsed and lost to UCF (this is not a knock on UCF. They came to play, and they kicked Baylor's tail. However, had Baylor played like they were supposed to they would have won that game.). Every single Alabama fan expected another National Championship appearance this season. That obviously didn't happen. In fact, if you had mentioned a Sugar Bowl appearance to Alabama folks before the season, they'd have probably cussed you out and run you off.

The last time Alabama entered the Sugar Bowl disappointed? January 2, 2009, just a few weeks after being upset in the SEC Championship by Florida, led by one Tim Tebow. The result? They were shocked again, this time by the Utah Utes, 31-17.

Alabama isn't the only team in this matchup with bitter Sugar Bowl memories though.

Ten years ago, in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma met up with LSU to decide the National Championship. Oklahoma came away 21-14 losers, leading many to scream that USC should have gone to the game over the Sooners. Since then, Oklahoma is a whopping 1-4 in BCS games, with the one win coming against 8-4 UConn in 2011.

Alabama is a 17 point favorite against Oklahoma tonight, putting Oklahoma in quite the unfamiliar situation. OU has been double-digit underdogs four times in the Bob Stoops era, and have gone 2-2. Bill Connelly elaborates:

If you're looking for hope for an upset, you could point out that OU is 2-2 as a double-digit dog in Stoops' time; the Sooners did beat FSU in 2000, and they did beat OSU a month ago. Granted, the other two times as big underdogs -- 2013 against Baylor (a 41-12 loss) and 2005 against Texas (45-12) -- turned out terribly, and the odds are pretty good that the Sugar Bowl will finish in a similar way. But it's not a given, at least not yet. "Big Game Bob" might still have a couple of tricks up his sleeve.

He better, anyway. Because otherwise this could get ugly.

Prediction: Alabama 38, Oklahoma 31

I think the Sooners come out more motivated to be there than Alabama, but unlike UCF in the Fiesta Bowl, they peter out late.