Allstate Sugar Bowl Looks at Big 12-SEC 2015The Allstate Sugar Bowl secured its future through January 2026 with the announcement that it would host the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences in eight of the 12 years between 2014 and 2025. If the champion of either or both leagues is selected for the College Football Playoff, a replacement team from that conference will play in the Sugar Bowl. In the four seasons that the Sugar Bowl is not hosting the Big 12 and the SEC (2014, 2017, 2020, 2023), it will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal.
After last year’s Playoff Semifinal game, this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl will be the first as the official destination for the top available teams from the Big 12 and the SEC. To lead into the season, the Bowl is providing brief previews of each team in the leagues.
Oklahoma2014 Record: 8-5 (5-4, tied for fourth in Big 12)
Athlon: Alamo Bowl vs. Arizona State
Sporting News: Alamo Bowl vs. UCLA
Phil Steele: Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon
ESPN (Schlabach): Alamo Bowl vs. Stanford
ESPN (McMurphy): Texas Bowl vs. Texas A&M
AP: Alamo Bowl vs. USC
CBS: Alamo Bowl vs. Stanford
Samaje Perine (So., RB): League-leading 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns
Sterling Shepard (Sr., WR): 51 receptions for 970 yards and 3 TDs, All-Big 12 First Team
Charles Tapper (Sr., DE): 37 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 3 sacks
Eric Striker (Sr.,LB): 68 tackles, 17 TFLs, 9 sacks, All-Big 12 selection
Dominique Alexander (Jr., LB): 107 tackles, 6 TFLs, 1.5 sacks
Jordan Evans ((Jr., LB): 93 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 1 INT
Zack Sanchez (Jr., CB): first team all-conference, 43 tackles, team-leading 6 INT and 8 PBU
Take your pick on which of the following stats is most key, but all relate to running back Samaje Perine. As a true freshman, Perine led the Big 12 in rushing with 1,713 yards – the fifth-best total in school history. He also added 21 rushing touchdowns (Adrian Peterson’s best year was 15). And in a November game against Kansas, the 5-11, 237-pounder ran for an FBS single-game record of 427 yards.
Key Early Games
Sept. 12 at Tennessee (5 p.m. CT, ESPN): In what could theoretically be an Allstate Sugar Bowl preview, these Big 12 and SEC foes face off in Knoxville. The Volunteers have been getting a lot of attention as a rising team that could compete for the SEC East title while the Sooners will be looking to establish a revamped wide-open offense featuring new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and the debut of Baker Mayfield, a transfer from Texas Tech, at quarterback.
Oct. 3 vs. West Virginia (TV TBD): The Sooners get to use the month of September to work out the kinks in their new offense, but then kick off October with their Big 12 opener against the Mountaineers. Both teams look to notch a win to establish early position in the always-crowded Big 12 race.
Sterling Shepard made a name for himself in New Orleans during the 2014 Sugar Bowl by catching seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown while also running for a score. He built on that success as a junior last season by tallying huge numbers (900 yards in his first seven games, 215 yards against TCU, 15 receptions against Kansas State), but then suffered a groin injury which limited him the remainder of the year. That injury also crippled Oklahoma’s passing attack. “It was tough, but that’s a part of the game,” he said in an Associated Press story. “Injuries are going to happen. You don’t know when they’re going to happen. They just kind of sneak up on you. I was trying to come back every week, just because of how frustrating it was. I wanted to be out there with my brothers.”
According to teammates, Shepard is back at full strength and better than ever. “Shep has been a beast this whole offseason,” receiver Durron Neal said. “He was very disappointed he couldn’t help us out last year by him going down. He did everything he could to come back. Just seeing him this offseason – we worked together this whole offseason – his leadership, his mentality, it’s just been stay healthy, make big plays for this team and help us in the best way possible.”
Despite his injuries last year, he was still a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in the nation. If he can stay healthy, expect more awards to come calling.
Not only did Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine run for 427 yards vs Kansas, but he also found the end zone five times. Campus Insiders shows you all five touchdowns from his record-breaking performance.
While Oklahoma is expected to play a wide-open brand of football this season, there was a time when the Sooners were the best at the ground game. Interestingly, two of their six Sugar Bowl appearances came in the same year as the Sooners defeated Auburn, 40-22, on Jan. 1, 1972, then came back 364 days later and upended Penn State, 14-0, on Dec. 31, 1972 – the first New Year’s Eve game in Sugar Bowl history.
In those two victories, Oklahoma completed a total of eight passes while rushing 163 times for 717 yards. In the Auburn win, the Sooners set a trio of Sugar Bowl records that still stand – rushing attempts (87), rushing yards (439) and rushing touchdowns (5). Quarterback Jack Mildren was the MVP of that game with 30 carries for 149 yards and three scores. In the Penn State game, despite the limited passing, the opening touchdown came on a 27-yard pass from Dave Robertson to Tinker Owens. Owens was the MVP after snagging five passes for 132 yards.