How an Oklahoma Sugar Bowl Victory Brought Redemption for 2007 Fiesta Bowl Loss

Joseph SheltonContributor IIIJanuary 4, 2014

The Sooners found redemption in another fashion on Thursday, considering their loss to Nick Saban-led LSU in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
The Sooners found redemption in another fashion on Thursday, considering their loss to Nick Saban-led LSU in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's safe to say that Oklahoma's triumph over Alabama in this year's Sugar Bowl was one of the greatest games ever played by the crimson-and-cream team. Quarterback Trevor Knight performed better than he had all year by throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns over the course of the game, while Bob Stoops became the only coach to win the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl since the beginning of the BCS era.

With this victory, the Sooners were able to bring some closure to one of their toughest losses in the history of their program: The 2007 Fiesta Bowl, where the Sooners took on Boise State.

For those who remember, the eighth-ranked Sooners emerged as the overwhelming favorite to win that evening, with many believing the Sooners would win with a seven-point deficit or higher. Meanwhile, the Boise State Broncos had plenty of momentum on their end thanks to the Western Athletic Conference championship triumph with an undefeated regular season. 

When the game started, Boise State took an early lead, and lead for most of the game before the Sooners fired back with 25 unanswered points to achieve their first lead of the game with 1:02 left on the clock, 35-28. 

With the game already looking to be a close one, fans on both sides were exhilarated when Jerard Rabb brought the ball down for a 35-yard touchdown run with seven seconds left in the game. The ensuing kick tied the game up 35-35. The game was sent into overtime.

Adrian Peterson gave the Sooners an edge with a 25-yard touchdown run, with the ensuing kick bringing the score to 42-35. Sooner fans knew that the game was going to go in Oklahoma's favor, but a six-yard touchdown followed by a Statue of Liberty trick play for a two-point conversion gave the Boise State Broncos the Fiesta Bowl win, 43-42.

The Broncos celebrate their improbable victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
The Broncos celebrate their improbable victory over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The game was widely regarded as one of the greatest college football games ever played due to the dramatic fashion in which it ended. But while the Broncos received the fanfare which comes with being a victorious underdog, the Sooners were left with a crushed morale which, in some ways, they never recovered from. 

Sure, they've won more games than lost, and they have won multiple Big 12 titles since that fateful January day, but the fact of the matter is that they were ousted by what was supposed to be a lesser team. The 2007 Fiesta Bowl will always be remembered in college football history, and Oklahoma has to suffer the stigma of being the juggernaut that lost that night.

Fast forward seven years later to the 2014 Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Oklahoma. It was an odd reversal of roles as Oklahoma was touted as the underdog team led by Stoops, while the third-ranked, Nick Saban-led Alabama was the favorite to win. With three BCS National Championship wins in the last four years, including the last two, it looked like it was going to get ugly.

Yet Oklahoma played a better game against Alabama than they had all year long. Relying heavily on a passing game, the Sooners brought the fight to Alabama, who struggled uncharacteristically through the night. Their pro-style offense had faded and became more predictable to defend against. Through it all, it was Oklahoma who pulled off the upset with a 45-31 win over Alabama.

Although it wasn't a nail-biter like the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma's performance in the 2014 Sugar Bowl managed to become one of the biggest in the program's history. For one, it signals a possible resurgence for the program. Also, as opposed to any surprise last-minute plays, Oklahoma played almost flawlessly throughout the game. 

With that, the Sooners are the reigning Sugar Bowl champions. Knight's stock has risen greatly because of his performance. Look for the Sooners to bring the heat this fall when football season starts back up.

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