Underdog Sooners not ‘scared’ of Alabama, SEC

Gabe Lynn understands if Oklahoma is considered an overwhelming

underdog in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.

Just don’t expect the senior safety to react with such

understanding when asked if the No. 11 Sooners are ”scared” of

the Crimson Tide – a question several teammates have been peppered

with since the bowl selections were announced Dec. 8.

”Nobody’s asked me that, but (they’ve) kind of talked about how

they’re such a great team or whatever (and) how we can’t play with

them,” Lynn said. ”I’ve heard stuff like that, but I haven’t

heard anything like, `We’re scared of them.’ Because we’re

definitely not scared of them.”

Oklahoma (10-2), a 16-point underdog, will have its chance to

prove worthy of a BCS bowl selection on Thursday night when it

takes on third-ranked Alabama (11-1).

The game carries with it plenty of intrigue simply because of

the presence of the Crimson Tide – winners of three of the last

four national championships and the premier program in college

football since coach Nick Saban’s arrival in 2007.

The might of Alabama, however, is far from the only story

line.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made sure of that as far back as last

spring when he challenged the notion that the Southeastern

Conference – which has fielded the last seven national champions –

is the most complete league in the country.

Stoops called some of the stories about SEC supremacy

”propaganda.” He followed that by taking a jab at SEC defenses

this season, all of which made for quality radio and Internet

material.

The winningest coach in Oklahoma history, having surpassed

former Sooners coach Barry Switzer this season, has wanted little

to do with the SEC story line leading to Thursday’s game. The

closest he’s come to providing clarity on his earlier comments

about the conference was to say he was talking about the lack of

quality teams in the league’s bottom half – not teams like

Alabama.

”There’s always a lot of talk because newspapers have to be

filled and airtime has to be filled,” Stoops said. ”You have to

talk about something. We don’t concern ourselves with it, really.

That’s their job to do. Our job is to get ready to play and to do

the work we do.”

Stoops has lost three games in a row to SEC teams, including a

Sugar Bowl loss to LSU after the 2003 season and to Florida in the

national championship game after the 2008 season. He’s 3-4 overall

against the league, with the latest loss coming against Texas

A&M in last season’s Cotton Bowl.

The last SEC team Stoops and Oklahoma beat was Alabama – doing

so in back-to-back regular-season games during the 2002 and 2003

seasons.

Of course, that was the pre-Saban Crimson Tide, and the games

were also the last time the Sooners played an SEC team during the

regular season.

Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard knows few expect the Sooners to win

or even stay close. The senior said he wanted to play the Crimson

Tide at the beginning of the season, though he had hoped to do so

in the national championship game.

Ikard still considers Alabama the ”best team in college

football,” and now he’d love to shock the country.

”Alabama’s been the king of college football, so they deserve

all that respect,” Ikard said. ”Now it’s up to us to go down

there and play them well and go get our Sugar Bowl victory.”

Stoops said he’d prefer to be a ”28-point favorite” leading

into the game rather than an underdog.

The role, however, suits freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander

just fine – especially considering the Sooners were underdogs

before winning their regular-season finale against rival Oklahoma

State and earning the Sugar Bowl berth.

”I mean, we’ve been the underdog all year,” Alexander said.

”Nobody expected us to do what we’ve done this year, as far as

making it to the Sugar Bowl and things like that, and beating some

of the teams we’ve beaten. But, I mean, it just pushes us harder.

We’re just going to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”