Make no mistake, Oklahoma pummeled Alabama Thursday night. For four quarters, the Sooners were the better team on both sides of the ball. AJ McCarron was sacked seven times and Alabama was forced into five turnovers.
Before this year, a Nick Saban coached Alabama team had never allowed a quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game. Johnny Manziel threw five earlier this season, and on Thursday, Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight dropped four touchdowns of his own on a Crimson Tide defense that looked bewildered and frankly — exhausted.
But as the Sooners hoisted the Sugar Bowl, there was a certain hollowness to the victory. It isn't that Oklahoma wasn't deserving or got lucky. The problem is Alabama simply wasn't as good as everyone believed.
The Crimson Tide hasn't lost two consecutive games since 2008, were all but christened BCS Champions before the season started, and even after a shocking loss to Auburn, still felt like the best team in the nation. Alabama was a 17-point favorite in Vegas — even oddsmakers misjudged this team. There was a lot of hype and a lot of reverence. In the end, the Crimson Tide believed their own hype and got burned.
Now, the Auburn-Florida State matchup for the BCS Championship feels even more right. Alabama had a complete roster for Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide had an entire month to prepare and recover from the loss to Auburn. Yet, they had no answer for Oklahoma. That isn't the sign of a championship team.
Alabama heads into 2014 without McCarron, the pulse of the team for so long. Couple the loss of their quarterback with the departure of linebacker C.J. Mosely, and the Crimson Tide will be trying to regain their identity and swagger once more. Alabama will surely bring in another elite recruiting class but after this loss, it's hard to look at the Crimson Tide as the nation's most dominant program.