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Oklahoma Sooners Football: A look back at OU’s past SEC bowl matchups

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Take a trip back through OU bowl history to see how the Sooners have fared against SEC opponents over the years.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Oklahoma v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Season’s greetings, Sooner Nation! Less than one week remains until the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners take on the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in a College Football Playoff matchup to be played in the Rose Bowl. The OU football program boasts an all-time record of 14-7-2 against the SEC — 6-7-1 in bowl games.

So, just how have all those previous post-season meetings gone between the Big 12’s best and the powerhouses from the Southeastern Conference? We take you on a trip back through the proud decades of Sooner football past to find out.

#2 Oklahoma - 0, #4 Tennessee - 17 (Orange Bowl, January 2, 1939)

In a battle of unbeaten teams, legendary Vols coach Bob Neyland led Tennessee to the victory over Tom Stidham’s Sooners in the Orange Bowl.

#2 Oklahoma - 35, #9 LSU - 0 (Sugar Bowl, January 1, 1950)

I chronicled this matchup in detail in last season’s lead-up to the Sugar Bowl. To summarize, the Bayou Bengals — caught up in the zeitgeist of the Cold War era — deployed a few spies atop a parking garage to covertly record OU’s practices during bowl week to gain an advantage on the favored Sooners. The sneaky tactics worked like a charm (depending on whom you ask) for the Louisiana State Tigers as they were handed a 35-0 trouncing by the Sooners, the largest margin of victory in Oklahoma’s bowl history.

#1 Oklahoma - 7, #7 Kentucky - 13 (Sugar Bowl, January 1, 1951)

The 10-1 Wildcats, led by head coach Bear Bryant, were SEC champs entering this New Year’s Day contest against No. 1 Oklahoma, who were already crowned AP regular season champions. The Sooners weren’t able to overcome Bryant’s defensive innovations in a 13-7 upset. OU’s five fumbles and late interception sealed the win for Kentucky and snapped the Sooners’ 31-game win streak.

#8 Oklahoma - 0, #5 Alabama - 17 (Orange Bowl, January 1, 1963)

Joe Namath led Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide to the shutout victory over Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners on New Year’s Day in Miami. OU fumbled twice on first-and-goal situations in the first half and never recovered. This game marks Oklahoma’s only loss in five meetings against Alabama.

#3 Oklahoma - 26, #2 Tennessee - 24 (Orange Bowl, January 1, 1968)

The Sooners would fare slightly better in its second bowl matchup against Tennessee. After jumping out to a 19-0 lead in the first half, OU had to hang on to survive a furious Volunteers comeback that cut the lead to 19-17. A late pick-six from star Bob Stephenson stretched Oklahoma’s lead and ultimately sealed the nail-biting win, 26-24, in Miami.

#20 Oklahoma - 24, Alabama - 24 (Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, December 31, 1970)

Switching to the wishbone offense that season, Oklahoma head coach Chuck Fairbanks and offensive coordinator Barry Switzer began the ’70s in promising fashion by playing the team of the 60s (Alabama) to a thrilling tie in the Houston Astrodome. Running back Greg Pruitt led OU with two touchdowns and fullback Leon Crosswhite added 111 yards on 20 carries in the New Year’s Eve classic against Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide. A late field goal tied the game for the Sooners, and a blocked field goal attempt by Oklahoma safety John Shelley ended the game.

#3 Oklahoma - 40, #5 Auburn - 22 (Sugar Bowl, January 1, 1972)

The first of two meetings to date between OU and Auburn began with the Sooners marching out to a 31-0 halftime lead before taking care of War Eagle, 40-22, at Tulane Stadium. Paced by quarterback Jack Mildren’s three touchdowns, the Sooners offense gained a Sugar Bowl-record 439 rushing yards en route to one of OU’s most impressive bowl wins in its history. The Oklahoma offense was a monster in the ’71 season and led the nation in scoring at 44.9 points per game while setting NCAA records for total offense (566.5 yards per game), rushing yards (5,196) and rushing yards per game (472.4) in an 11-1 finish.

Oklahoma - 25, Mississippi - 27 (Independence Bowl, December 31, 1999)

In the last college football game played in the 20th century, first-year head coach Bob Stoops led OU to its first bowl appearance in five seasons. Down 21-3 early, the Sooners roared back to take their first lead of the game at 25-24 behind QB Josh Heupel’s 390 passing yards and three touchdowns. Ole Miss, which was led by running back Deuce McAllister’s 176 total yards from scrimmage, then capped the thriller in Shreveport with a late field goal to send the millennium out in style. Ranked No. 19 in the nation to begin the next season, Oklahoma went on to win the 2000 national title against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

#10 Oklahoma - 10, Arkansas - 3 (Cotton Bowl, January 1, 2002)

The Sooners stifling defense notched nine sacks — two each by Roy Williams, Jimmy Wilkerson and Brandon Moore — and held Arkansas to a mere 50 total yards in a Cotton Bowl matchup on a cold New Year’s Day in Dallas. Williams, an unanimous All-American and winner of the 2001 Nagurski and Thorpe Awards, along with fellow All-American and ’01 Butkus Award winner Rocky Calmus, led the way in their final collegiate game on a defense that allowed just 37 rushing yards on 42 attempts and let the Razorbacks into OU territory twice in the entire game.

#1 Oklahoma - 14, #2 LSU - 21 (BCS Championship, January 4, 2004)

LSU’s vaunted defense was too much for the nation’s top offense to overcome, especially with a visibly-hurt Heisman-winning QB Jason White, who had injured his wrist in a Big 12 Championship upset loss against Kansas State in early December. A low-scoring affair in New Orleans saw the Sooners run game find some late second-half success against the Tigers despite the nation’s best pass attack providing little to no highlights on the evening. Yet, with the game on the line Oklahoma went to the air down the stretch, only to throw four straight incompletions in the final minutes to come up short in the BCS title game and what could’ve been a storybook season.

#2 Oklahoma - 14, #1 Florida - 24 (BCS Championship, January 8, 2009)

Led by Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and a high-octane offense, the Sooners once again came up frustratingly short in a national title game, this time in Miami against Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Urban Meyer’s swamp kings surrendered just 14 points to the record-setting Oklahoma offense, suffocating a unit that came in averaging over 50 points per contest. The Sooners, who found the red zone throughout the game, left more than enough first-half points off the board after being run-stuffed at the goal line two straight times and throwing a costly interception from the six-yard line just before halftime. Florida capitalized on another late second-half OU interception to put the game away, 24-14, in their home state. This Sooners team is considered among the best in modern college football history to not win a title.

#11 Oklahoma - 13, #9 Texas A&M - 41 (Cotton Bowl, January 4, 2013)

A young Johnny Manziel, the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, went full-on Johnny Football all over OU in Dallas. The Sooners appeared to be looking forward to the next season well before halftime and the Aggies smelled blood and shredded Oklahoma to bits. We shall never discuss this event ever again.

#10 Oklahoma - 45, #3 Alabama - 31 (Sugar Bowl, January 2, 2014)

This particular season provided one of the most pleasant experiences in OU’s bowl history on a sweet January night in New Orleans. Signal caller Trevor Knight played the game of a lifetime and led 18-point-underdog OU to an upset heard ‘round the college football world against the third-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Knight surgically dissected the Tide’s defense for 348 yards and four touchdowns, while the All-Big 12 pass-rushing trio of Eric Striker, Charles Tapper and Geneo Grissom ate up Nick Saban’s offense led by quarterback A.J. McCarron. Oklahoma celebrated its third win in series history against Alabama in resounding fashion, highlighted by a scoop-and-score that put the stamp on a signature beatdown in the Big Easy.

#7 Oklahoma - 35, #14 Auburn - 19 (Sugar Bowl, January 2, 2017)

Samaje Perine’s record-setting momemt highlighted this dominant win against a tough Auburn squad in New Orleans. The Sooners entered this one on a nine-game win streak following an undefeated conference season and capped the campaign with a statement win against one of the SEC’s elite. Baker Mayfield threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns — one of them to his fellow Heisman finalist and Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook — while Perine’s backfield mate Joe Mixon went for 91 rushing yards and 89 receiving along with two touchdowns in the Superdome.