Cleaning Out Tide Bowl Notebook

The Sugar Bowl has long been a favorite destination of Alabama fans, but the last two Crimson Tide trips to the game – the BCS Championship Game win over LSU in New Orleans was not a Sugar Bowl – have been less than satisfying. The latest disappointment came against Oklahoma, and that disappointment is part of the reason we have delayed cleaning out the Sugar Bowl notebook.



Actually, there was some good for Alabama in the 45-31 loss to Oklahoma in the 2014 Sugar Bowl that left the Crimson Tide with an 11-2 record. Bama increased its nation's best record of bowl participation to 61. And that's about it.

While Alabama was losing, staying stuck on 35 all-time bowl victories, second place USC added a win this bowl season and now has 33.

Alabama's record 14th Sugar Bowl resulted in a second consecutive loss. Utah was a 31-17 winner over the Tide at the end of the 2008 season. The Tide is 8-6 in Sugar Bowl games. The eight wins is a Sugar Bowl record.

The 2008 and 2013 seasons, thus, both end with back-to-back losses, the only time that has happened in the Nick Saban era. Saban's Alabama bowl record is now 5-2, and three of those five were BCS National Championship Game victories.

The loss also dropped Bama behind in its all-time (and obviously slim) record against the Sooners. Oklahoma is now a 3-1-1 leader in the series. In bowl games the teams are even, 1-1-1.

Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon's one-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter ran Bama's school record to 169 games with a score.

Senior quarterback A.J. McCarron passed for 387 yards in the game (fourth best in Sugar Bowl history) and finished the season with 3,063 passing yards, surpassing the previous single-season record held by Greg McElroy (2,987 yards in 2010). It was the fifth time in his career McCarron has thrown for over 300 yards in a game, and the third time in his final season. McCarron had a career-high 359 yards at Kentucky and 334 at Texas A&M in the Crimson Tide's second game of the season. In 2012, he had 309 versus the Aggies and 306 at Tennessee.

McCarron had 301 of his passing yards in the first half against Oklahoma.

Sophomore Amari Cooper and junior DeAndrew White became the first pair of Alabama receivers to go over 100 yards in game since Sept. 10, 2005, versus Southern Miss (Tyrone Prothro – 134; D.J. Hall – 130). Cooper finished with 121 yards on 9 receptions, while White had 3 catches for 139 yards.

White hauled in a 63-yard pass from McCarron in the first quarter to break the Alabama bowl record for longest pass completion. The previous record of 61 yards was set in the 1931 Rose Bowl by quarterback Johnny Cain and wide receiver John Suther. McCarron connected with White on a 67-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to establish a new record. It was the sixth-longest pass play in Sugar Bowl history. It also tied for the fifth-longest scoring pass play in Sugar Bowl history. finished with a career-high 139 yards off three receptions.

Speaking of 61-yard touchdown receptions, freshman running back Derrick Henry's first reception of his career was a short pass that Henry turned into a 61-yard touchdown play from McCarron in the fourth quarter.

The 139 receiving yards by White was the 11th-highest total for receiving yards in Sugar Bowl history. Cooper's 121 receiving yards was the 21st-best total in Sugar Bowl history.White set a Sugar Bowl record with 46.3 yards average per reception (Min. 3 receptions). It was also the second-highest number in BCS games (Peerless Price, 4-for-199, Tennessee vs. Florida State, Fiesta, Jan. 4, 1999).

Henry notched the second-best number for the most rushing yards per attempt (minimum 8 attempts) in a Sugar Bowl game with 12.5. He had 8 runs for 100 yards.

On the defensive side, sophomore safety Landon Collins – who hails from Geismar, La., about 50 miles from New Orleans -- halted Oklahoma's opening drive with a diving interception of a tipped pass at the Alabama 24. It was the second pick of the season for Collins and 11th for the Crimson Tide overall.

Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley had six tackles against Oklahoma and passed Woodrow Lowe for third on the Alabama career list with 319 total tackles.

Actual defensive statistics were not kept at Alabama or at most colleges until the early 1970s. For example, Lee Roy Jordan's 31 tackles against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 1962 season was determined by ABC statisticians.

Most notes from the defensive side were not good. Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight, winner of the MV2 award, passed for a Sugar Bowl record four ztouchdowns. Knight also set a record for pass completions with 32.

Alabama had been pretty good on turnovers going into the Sugar Bowl. In 12 games the Tide had given up only 20 points off turnovers. Oklahoma had 21 in the first half and finished with 28 points off Tide miscues.

Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker tied a Sugar Bowl record with three sacks. The last time a player notched three sacks was Utah's Stevenson Sylvester vs. Alabama in 2009. The sack by Striker at the 47-second mark in the fourth quarter gave the Sooners seven sacks for the game, tying for the second highest total in a Sugar Bowl game all time. The last time a team recorded seven sacks in a game was on Jan. 4, 2000 by Florida State against Virginia Tech.

The combined 76 points scored by the two teams was the second-highest combined point total in Sugar Bowl history. It was the highest combined point total since Jan. 4, 2000, when Florida State (46) and Virginia Tech (29) combined to score 75 points. The 45 points scored by Oklahoma was the fifth-highest point total by one team in Sugar Bowl history.

The 45 points allowed by Alabama was the most the Tide defense has given up in a game since the 1996 SEC Championship Game, a 45-30 loss to Florida.

Certainly times are different, but consider that Alabama's 1966 team defeated Nebraska, 34-7, in the Sugar Bowl and finished the SEASON allowing just 44 points.

The 516 yards of offense accumulated by Alabama was the fifth-highest yardage total in Sugar Bowl history, and the 7.94 yards per play the Alabama offense averaged was the fourth-highest average yards per play number in Sugar Bowl history.

The 771 combined passing yards from Alabama and Oklahoma was the second-highest total by two teams in Sugar Bowl history. It was the first time the Sugar Bowl had two players throw for more than 300 yards (Knight 348, McCarron 387).

The Alabama four-play, 75 yard drive in 1:39 on the opening drive of the game, which ended with a T.J. Yeldon one-yard run, was the fastest offensive touchdown drive to open a Sugar Bowl since at least 1999. (Times on scoring drives in the Sugar Bowl are not available prior to the 1998 game; Last season, Louisville's Terrell Floyd scored a defensive touchdown on a 38-yard interception return 15 seconds into the game).

In addition to featuring two programs ranked in the top seven all-time in college football (FBS) victories, no Sugar Bowl game in history had featured more combined bowl victories (62) by its teams.

Attendance for the game was 70,473.

Alabama's next football game will be when the Crimson Tide opens the 2014 season against West Virginia on Aug. 30 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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