Alabama and Oklahoma share passion and a rich legacy of success, not to mention a genuine respect for each other.
"They've looked at it as a great opportunity to see where we're at against the elite program in college football," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said Sunday of his players. Stoops' counterpart at Alabama, Kirby Smart, said, "We've actually visited a lot of offseasons with their staff and their team."
When the No. 3 Tide and the No. 11 Sooners take the field Thursday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, it will be only the fifth time they have played one another in a history that spans 1,668 victories. Oklahoma has won 836 games, Alabama 832.
Alabama won six Associated Press national championships in the pre-BCS era. So did Oklahoma.
The Crimson Tide won three BCS titles, the Sooners one.
Oklahoma had Bud Wilkinson, Alabama had Bear Bryant.
Until Urban Meyer (.842) passed him late this season, former Sooners coach Barry Switzer had the best career winning percentage (.837) in FBS history (and if Ohio State loses the Discover Orange Bowl to Clemson, Switzer will be in first again).
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