Sugar Bowl film review: First half

A look at the five plays in the first half that helped tell the story during the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Every play matters but some stick out more than others. Each week Sooners Illustrated will look at the five plays that stood out in Oklahoma's performance. This week it's the first half of OU's 45-31 win against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Play No. 1: Knight picked off

Not too many OU fans were sticking their chest out with the way the game started. Alabama needed a mere four plays to roll 75 yards and score on its opening series.

The Sooners had success on their first drive, earning three first downs until Trevor Knight was intercepted by Landon Collins on a tipped pass.

When looking to pull off the upset, plays like that need to happen. It looked like that could have swayed the game toward the Crimson Tide, but OU responded has it has throughout this season.

OU safety Gabe Lynn picked off A.J. McCarron on the next play, helping erase OU's only turnover of the game.

Play No. 2: Knight connects with Bester for the touchdown

The first series ended with an interception so there was no way of knowing how the OU coaches were going to approach the second series. They decided to keep their foot on the gas pedal.

Not going conservative, OU took another shot down the field. This time Knight was right on target with LaColtan Bester, who had nothing but green turf ahead of him.

Bester dove for the end zone and scored from 45 yards out to tie the game at 7-7. It was the first of many statements made by the Sooners and Knight throughout the night.

Play No. 3: Woods makes his contribution

OU converted its first five third down opportunities but none was more special or timely than when Knight found redshirt freshman Derrick Woods on a 3rd-and-12 in the second quarter.

The Sooners were backed into a first-and-30 and Sterling Shepard was out of the game momentarily with a shoulder injury. Knight helped get it back to manageable distance when he found Woods for 20 yards and a first down.

OU got contributions from a lot of players most didn't see coming. Tight ends Brannon Green and Taylor McNamara each had a reception as well, the first of McNamara's career as a Sooner. The conversion led to a field goal to make it 17-17 with 11:45 left in the first half.

Play No. 4: Saunders erases earlier drop

The first interception by Knight was not all his fault. Though a little high, wide receiver Jalen Saunders has caught those balls in the past.

He already had one touchdown and then put that drop far in his rear view mirror with a 43-yard touchdown toward the end of the first half.

It was a beautiful play by Knight, who bought time and waited for the play to develop. Saunders initially looked like he was going toward the sideline before turning upfield and Knight delivered another strike for the score.

Play No. 5: Sanchez makes his presence known

It's always said you need to have a short memory to be a defensive back, and no bigger proof of that was with redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez.

He was targeted early and often and beat early and often by Alabama, but he made one of the biggest plays of the half.

OU was blitzing all night and brought another one. And though a senior, McCarron was consistently rattled and uncomfortable by what the Sooners were bringing.

A panicked throw led to Sanchez easily stepping in front and making the interception to set up OU's final score of the half to make it 31-17.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories