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Fri Jan 3, 2014, 07:49 PM

Nick Saban's Worst Nightmare -- Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners troll the Tide in New Orleans


Stoops, though — can we give the man a pirate ship? Oklahoma's plan to stop the no. 3 Crimson Tide was so DNGAF it could have been its own 2008 subreddit. I realize this word gets overused on the Internet, but I was there in the Superdome, and what the Sooners did was just exquisite, exquisite trolling. Some football games are shootouts and some are chess matches; this was like watching a commenter ruin a blogger's day over and over again. The blogger keeps getting madder, because when you care enough to run a basic spell-check (= try to establish the running game) you shouldn't have to answer to some dude called pants_commander who has no respect for the shift key (= busts out an onside kick while leading by 14 with one minute left). But if the enduring image of Bama from this game was — apologies to AJ McCarron, who has many lovely trophies at his house — freshman running back Derrick Henry hog-plowing through the Oklahoma defense in the second half, the enduring image of Oklahoma was that ridiculous double–middle finger of a game-icing kick. It was probably an accident, which somehow made it more, not less, insulting. It was as though Stoops had partied so hard on the corpse of the SEC that he woke up with an unplanned tattoo.

Because Big Game Bob has, of course, invested important time over the last couple of seasons in airing some very vibrant emotions about the SEC and its dominance and its defenses. And while these were by letter narrowly confined to a critique of the media's tendency to ascribe depth to conferences that are merely very strong up top, they were in spirit nothing else but calling out Alabama, and Stoops knew this and still knows it. The word "propaganda" was deployed in an unkind spirit. And most of the country, including me, certainly, and also Vegas, which made the Sooners a 15-point underdog, saw this Sugar Bowl matchup as an opportunity for the Tide to exact bloody retribution — against Stoops for disrespecting them, against Auburn for dumping them out to New Orleans in the first place, against the kicking game for having the temerity to exist. Instead, infant quarterback Trevor Knight, who wasn't even a lock to start for Oklahoma, threw four touchdown passes, Alabama gave up 31 points in the first half after having surrendered a total of 52 first-half points in its previous 12 games, and Stoops blazed a fat chain of told-you-so doughnuts all over our national parking lot. He must have known he'd be on camera a lot, because he wore his nicest visor.

Afterward, a bunch of Oklahoma players piled onto a stage and broke ESPN. Did I mention that this game was amusing?

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