Setting the stage: Sugar Bowl

The time for talking is almost over but one last look in dissecting the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Oklahoma and Alabama. is going to set the stage every week breaking down Oklahoma's game during the 2013 season.

No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. No. 3 Alabama (11-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. CST

OU's biggest question going into the game

Will the Sooners be able to impose their will and show that physical football has indeed returned to Oklahoma? Some of the focus has been on who OU's starting quarterback is going to be between Trevor Knight and Blake Bell. It's all moot, though, if the Sooners cannot find a way to have success on the ground.

This will be the last game for seniors Brennan Clay and Roy Finch and could be the start of something big in the future for freshman Keith Ford if he gets any opportunities.

"It's going to be tough for any team," said Clay about establishing the run against the Crimson Tide. "We have to be able to establish the running game and open up the doors that will allow us to take some shots down the field, which will get our offense going."

The Sooners have to have some semblance of balance on offense. But there's no way OU is going to generate any passing success if it cannot bring the safeties up to try to defend the run.

Alabama's defense is big. Some say it could be a problem. Clay sees it as a golden opportunity.

"I like playing defense like that though," Clay said. "We played Notre Dame and they are big up front as well. So you get through those cracks and you're good to go."

The question is will those cracks exist?

Alabama's biggest question going into the game

Have the Crimson Tide fully been able to put the Auburn loss in the rear view mirror and come out with a spirited effort? Alabama has a legendary coach in Nick Saban. It has incredible leaders on both sides of the ball in quarterback A.J. McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley.

All that being said, is the Iron Bowl still in the back of their mind? It sounds so easy to say move on and get ready for the next one. The goal was never the Sugar Bowl for the Crimson Tide. The goal was always to play for their third consecutive national championship.

For the last month, they have been told this is a walkover game. This is a game where OU has no chance and they should win by at least two touchdowns.

They've said all the right things about staying focused and doing things the right way and preparing hard. But the proof will be in the performance Thursday night.


"They're a tough-minded team. They're very physical. This is probably going to be the most physical game we're going to play all season. But they're just a football team. So we're going to go out there and play football." – OU defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue

Breakout player

For a game like this, it's tough to envision anybody really breaking out that hasn't already been a major factor before. But for the Sooners to have a chance something special will have to be in store for Jalen Saunders. Not just a return, either, Saunders is going to have to deliver in every way imaginable and be the guy the Crimson Tide don't have an answer for. The goal has to be for around 200 yards of total offense from Saunders on this night.


Alabama 27, OU 19. After a month of talking, everybody is going to be happy to finally just get on the field and go to work. The Sooners are going to have some offensive success, but it won't consistent enough for four quarters to pull off the upset. Nobody will like talking about a moral victory or showing that OU can compete with an SEC power like Alabama. The goal was to win, but the Sooners will fall just short.

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