SI Take 3: OU never flinched

OU coach Bob Stoops gave his initial thoughts on playing Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

A special Sunday night edition of the SI Take 3. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Alabama coach Nick Saban discussed the Allstate Sugar Bowl matchup between the Sooners and the Crimson Tide on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.

Take No. 1: Accomplishment means a lot to OU

No other way to slice it. The Sooners were not supposed to get here. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. A year where 9-3 or 8-4 was deemed acceptable.

But through all the injuries, the Sooners were able to keep it together for another 10 win season and another BCS bowl appearance.

"Everybody kept grinding, fighting, believing," Stoops said. "Had a great attitude and so proud of the assistant coaches the way they've continued to put the pieces together. No one ever flinched. Able to fight our way through it."

Saban said he saw all he needed to know about OU and its character in watching the Sooners' fighting spirit with the Bedlam win at Oklahoma State.

Take No. 2: Stoops thinks McCarron is best player in the country

One of the real startling things revealed on the call was Stoops giving a ringing endorsement to Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. He didn't hedge at all.

"I think A.J. McCarron is the best player in the country," Stoops said. "If I had a vote, that's who I'd vote for."

McCarron is likely to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy award, but he is not considered the favorite. Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has that honor.

But the respect Stoops has for McCarron and Nick Saban was readily apparent throughout the conversation.

Take No. 3: This is a solid recruiting opportunity

OU commits are pumped about the Sooners making it to New Orleans. And it's not out of the realm of possibility that this helps OU's program moving forward.

"Anytime you're here in these BCS bowls, it's a positive," Stoops said. "It's always a plus. Players recognize that. They don't draw your name out of a hat to play in these games. You play in these games by winning."

This will be the first matchup between the Sooners and Crimson Tide since 2003. OU won a home-and-home series against Alabama in 2002 and 2003.

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