After an impressive 14-point victory against the two-time defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, the Oklahoma Sooners seem to have their starting quarterback for the 2014-15 season and poised in taking back the Big 12 crown.
Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight absolutely played his heart out, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns against Alabama. It was his best game of his young career, and one of the best, if not the best performance from an Oklahoma quarterback in bowl history.
It was Oklahoma’s second straight BCS bowl win after losing its previous five.
Not all had gone well for Knight throughout the season. He won the starting position over junior Blake Bell, but was pulled in the Sooners’ second game against West Virginia for struggling in the passing game.
Bell went on to start the next seven games, which included a 31-point win versus Tulsa as he threw for the most yards in school history in a quarterback’s first start; a 14-point win in South Bend over Notre Dame; and wins against TCU, Texas Tech, and Kansas.
Knight initially missed time due to a concussion, and Bob Stoops kept Bell in only because he was playing well, but after a 41-12 loss to Baylor in Waco, Stoops put Knight back in to start the final three games of the regular season.
In the first two, against Iowa State and Kansas State, Knight continued to struggle in the pass game, only throwing 233 yards on 22-of-34 passing. He did however, excel in the rushing attack by running 24 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Knight started the final game, in Bedlam, but left just before halftime. Bell played well in the Sooners’ 33-24 comeback win over then No. 6 Oklahoma State.
Stoops didn’t announce his starting quarterback until just prior to the Sugar Bowl. His plan worked, as Alabama’s defense was gashed for 429 yards of total offense from Oklahoma.
The Sooners defense have been one of the best all season long and it showed against the Tide. Alabama committed five turnovers (three fumbles, two picks).
With the win, Stoops picked up his 160th-career win, all with Oklahoma and already has the school record for most wins, passing Barry Switzer during the season.
Oklahoma had 25 seniors on its 2013-14 roster, and will lose key members on both sides of the ball such as All-Big 12 center Gabe Ikard; fullback Trey Millard and linebacker Corey Nelson, both who suffered season-ending injuries; running backs Roy Finch and Brennan Clay; defensive backs Gabe Lynn and Aaron Colvin, who combined for five interceptions and 112 tackles; and receivers Jalen Saunders, Lacoltan Bester and Jaz Reynolds.
Clay rushed for 957 yards and six touchdowns, including a career-high 200 yards rushing on Nov. 23 versus Kansas State.
Saunders, who was named second team All-Big 12, finished with 729 yards receiving and eight touchdowns while also returning punts and scored two touchdowns in the return game.
Ikard and Colvin were named to the All-Big 12 first team. It was Ikard’s third straight first-team award, while Colvin has been named to the first team for the second year in a row.
The Sooners have five committed recruits thus far, including 6-foot-1 running back Joe Mixon from Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif. During this past season, Mixon rushed 201 times for 1,443 yards (7.1 yards per rush), and 20 touchdowns; 44 other schools made Mixon an offer, including USC, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State, Auburn, Baylor, and Notre Dame.
Sophomore quarterback Michael Brewer is transferring to Oklahoma from fellow Big 12 school Texas Tech. He’ll join Knight, Bell, and sophomore Kendal Thompson on the roster.
Stoops has led the Sooners to double-digit wins in 12 of his 15 seasons at the school.