But Alabama has to be pleased to be in the situation of playing in the Sugar Bowl against one of its fellow bluebloods of college football. The Crimson Tide will face the Oklahoma Sooners at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on January 2.
Alabama Athletics Director Bill Battle had more than one reason to be pleased with the selection of Bama and OU for the Sugar Bowl. First of all, Battle’s senior season ended in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma following the 1962 season, and the Crimson Tide of Coach Paul Bryant put a 17-0 thrashing on the Sooners of Coach Bud Wilkinson. President John F. Kennedy was in the stands in Miami for that game 51 years ago.
Battle, an outstanding student, earned his undergraduate degree at Alabama and then went to Oklahoma as a graduate assistant coach, where he earned his master’s degree. The Tide AD made note of that in his acceptance of the invitation to the Sugar Bowl.
“We are excited and proud to be named to play in this year's Sugar Bowl against the University of Oklahoma,” said Battle. “These are two great universities with great academic and football traditions. The history of our previous games against each other has been very competitive and exciting. Our fans love New Orleans, and this is especially meaningful to me, as I have degrees from both institutions (bachelor’s degree from Alabama, master’s degree from Oklahoma).”
Alabama (11-1 overall) and Oklahoma (10-2) have met four times in their storied histories, but will be meeting for the first time since 2003. Oklahoma owns a 2-1-1 series lead over the Crimson Tide with two of the games taking place in the postseason.
The teams first met in the 1963 Orange Bowl when the Crimson Tide won a memorable 17-0 verdict over the Sooners in Miami, Fla. The squads matched up again following the 1970 season and battled to a 24-24 tie in the 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl game at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Alabama and Oklahoma met in regular season contests in 2002 (a 37-27 Oklahoma win at Norman) and 2003 (a 20-13 Oklahoma victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa).
The Crimson Tide will be making a record 14th appearance in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama owns the Sugar Bowl record with eight wins in the game. The last Sugar Bowl appearance for the Tide was following the 2008 season when Alabama took on Utah. However, Alabama was hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl for the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game, when the Crimson Tide knocked off LSU, 21-0, for Alabama’s 14th national title. The Crimson Tide also secured national championships with wins in the Sugar Bowl in 1979, 1980 and 1993 and played in the Sugar Bowl at the conclusion of the 1961 national championship season when titles were awarded prior to bowl games.
"It is going to be exciting for us to go to New Orleans and play in another BCS bowl game," said Crimson Tide senior linebacker C.J. Mosley. "I grew up in Mobile so it will be great to play my final game at Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, so close to my friends and family. That being said, we are going there to win a football game and that has to be our mindset. I know we are looking forward to the challenge.”
"I know Alabama and the Sugar Bowl have a rich tradition together, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to play such a tremendous program like the University of Oklahoma," said Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. "The Sugar Bowl gives us a chance to play our final game together on one of the grandest stages college football has to offer.”
The Crimson Tide is making its sixth BCS bowl appearance and fifth in the last six seasons under Saban. The Crimson Tide also played in the 2009 Sugar Bowl (2008 season – a 31-17 loss to Utah), the 2010 BCS National Championship Game (2009 season – a 37-21 victory over Texas), the 2012 BCS National Championship Game (2011 season – a 21-0 victory over LSU), and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game (2012 season – a 42-14 victory over Notre Dame). Alabama also appeared in the 2000 Orange Bowl (a 35-34 loss to Michigan in overtime).
Alabama will be playing a post-season game at the Superdome for the ninth time in school history and the Crimson Tide has a 6-2 record in those eight prior contests. Overall, this will be Alabama’s 15th bowl game appearance in the city of New Orleans with the Tide owning an 8-6 record. Alabama also participated in the Sugar Bowl in 1945 (a 29-26 loss to Duke), 1948 (a 27-7 loss to Texas), 1962 (a 10-3 win over Arkansas), 1964 (a 12-7 win over Ole Miss), 1967 (a 34-7 win over Nebraska), 1973 (a 24-23 loss to Notre Dame), 1975 (a 13-6 win over Penn State), 1978 (a 35-6 win over Ohio State), 1979 (a 14-7 win over Penn State), 1980 (a 24-9 win over Arkansas), 1990 (a 33-25 loss to Miami), 1993 (a 34-13 win over Miami), 2009 (a 31-17 loss to Utah) and 2012 (a 21-0 win over LSU).
Alabama has played in more bowl games (61, not counting one vacated appearance and including the upcoming Sugar Bowl) and earned more bowl wins (34) than any school in college football history. The Crimson Tide has posted a 34-22-3 all-time bowl record. The Crimson Tide is making its seventh consecutive bowl appearance under Saban and the 10th straight overall for the school.
Saban is 5-1 in bowl games at Alabama, defeating Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, defeating LSU in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, defeating Michigan State in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, defeating Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game and defeating Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl. The Tide's bowl loss under Saban came in the 2009 Sugar Bowl against Utah.