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Originally published January 2, 2014 at 9:57 PM | Page modified January 2, 2014 at 10:56 PM

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Sooners stun Alabama to claim Sugar Bowl

Trevor Knight passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns and No.11 Oklahoma took down third-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl 45-31 on Thursday night.

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NEW ORLEANS — 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.”

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 Oklahoma coach Bob 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.

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.

Just when everything seemed orderly in the Texas coaching search, a new top-tier candidate may have emerged in UCLA coach Jim Mora.

The buzz around Art Briles dissipated somewhat after Baylor’s 52-42 loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.

And billionaire Texas donor Red McCombs suggested the powers-that-be at the school take a serious look at Super Bowl-winning coach turned ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.

Publicly and privately, Mora has denied interest in Texas. But two industry sources told The Dallas Morning News that Texas has renewed its interest in Mora through his representatives. No interview is scheduled.


• Oregon State junior wide receiver Brandin Cooks declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans also declared for the draft.

Grand slam for Stoops

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops became the first coach to win all four BCS bowls with Thursday’s Sugar Bowl victory.
2001OrangeOklahoma 13, Florida State 2
2003RoseOklahoma 34, Washington State 14
2011FiestaOklahoma 40, Connecticut 20
2014SugarOklahoma 45, Alabama 31

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