New Orleans, La.--A team many expected to be playing in the College Football Playoffs, the Oklahoma Sooners’ Big 12 title helped soften the memories of big losses to Houston and Ohio State early in the season.
Despite a 10-2 overall record, Coach Bob Stoops’ squad finds itself back in the Sugar Bowl for the second time in the last four years and facing an Auburn team that comes into the game as the underdog after struggling down the stretch with losses to rivals Georgia and Alabama in two of its last three games.
Stoops said even though his team had goals of playing for a title, they are focused on playing well on Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl.
“Whether you’re playing for the playoffs, the national championship, every game is important,” Stoops said. “Hopefully, there’s a sense of pride no matter who you’re playing or when you’re playing that you have to play to our standards or a certain level. I believe our guys will play that way.”
Even though the Tigers enter at 8-4 overall, the veteran coach said he and his team are excited about playing in the Sugar Bowl. There’s no question that having the opportunity to face a team from the SEC adds a little more to the table for the Sooners, but Stoops said just being in New Orleans should be enough to get his team going.
“This is one of the, always has been, elite bowl games,” Stoops said. “And still is. Each and every year it’s one of those you aspire to get to.”
The leader on defense for the Sooners with 89 total tackles and four interceptions, linebacker Jordan Evans said this team wants to finish things on a positive note and that means getting a win against Auburn.
“Obviously we want to play for the National Championship, but the same time it’s still a big-time bowl game against a really good team,” Evans said. “It’s another game for our team. There is a trophy behind it and we want it.”