In an unexpected turn of events, the third ranked Alabama Crimson Tide lost to the eleventh ranked Oklahoma Sooners 45 to 31 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Much like the Iron Bowl loss to end the regular season, the Tide were uncharacteristically outplayed in all facets of the game, giving up big plays on defense, taking costly penalties and committing deadly turnovers.
The latter is something senior quarterback AJ McCarron had a problem with in the game, with two interceptions and the fumble that sealed the deal on Alabama’s last drive of the game.
“Oklahoma did a good job of mixing things up, showing us some things we hadn’t seen,” McCarron said. “But you put it all on me… So, you know, it’s football. It happens.” McCarron finished the night with 387 yards on 19 of 30 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Fellow senior and team captain Kevin Norwood wasn’t okay with his quarterback playing the martyr for the loss.
“It’s not just a one man team,” the wide receiver said. “We all win and lose together. AJ can’t put it all on himself. I can’t let him do that… We didn’t come out and play like we should.” Norwood pulled in two catches for 30 yards in his final game as a member of the Crimson Tide.
It wasn’t all bad for Nick Saban’s squad however. Silver linings presented themselves in the form of two young, budding stars for the Crimson Tide.
“Derrick [Henry] had a really good bowl practice,” Saban said in the post-game press conference. “…We decided that he was our second best back going into this game, and we were going to give him an opportunity based on his performance in practice.”
The true freshman responded with a monster game, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and adding a 61-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
The other young emerging star should come as no surprise. Once again, defensive back Landon Collins made big plays to keep Alabama in the game, including an interception in the first quarter. The safety notched 9 total tackles on the evening, trailing Eddie Jackson for the team lead.
While the end result leaves a sour taste in the mouth of Crimson Tide fans, it should not eclipse one of the truly great things in Alabama history: this senior class, who leaves behind a legacy unprecedented as they await life beyond the Capstone.