OU, Bama have intertwined history

In fact, Bryant and the Tide showed up the Sooners, 17-0. According to Jay Wilkinson, who wrote a memoir about his father, Wilkinson worked his team so hard before the game that Oklahoma had nothing left for the game.

Oklahoma and Alabama met again in the 1970 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, a game that pretty much illustrated what mediocrities the Sooners and the Crimson Tide had become. Oklahoma (7-4-1) salvaged a 24-24 tie because kicker Bruce Derr made a 42-yard field goal with :59 to play and Alabama (6-5-1) kicker Richard Ciemny missed a 34-yarder with :01 to play.

The Sooners adopted the wishbone in the middle of the 1970 season. Bryant waited until the following offseason (both programs received help from Texas coach Darrell Royal, who had been the first college coach to use it). In 1971, both Oklahoma and Alabama soared into national contention, where they remained into the 1980s. Oklahoma won at least a share of the national championship under Switzer in 1974, 1975 and 1985; Alabama in 1973, 1978 and 1979.

In all these years, Oklahoma and Alabama have played only one home-and-home series, in 2002-2003. In the second game of the 2002 season, the No. 2 Sooners needed two late touchdowns at home to win 37-27, subduing a Tide team that would go on to win 10 games.

In the return match in Tuscaloosa, Oklahoma, the first No. 1 team to ever visit Bryant-Denny Stadium, turned the momentum of the game with a fake punt. Protecting a 13-10 lead, the Sooners had a fourth-and-11 at their own 31. Punter Blake Ferguson completed a pass to defensive back Michael Thompson, who took it for a 22-yard gain. Oklahoma ground out a 20-13 victory and made it to the BCS National Championship Game.

And that has been it. There is no reason, no animosity, no one program avoiding the other. They just haven't made a deal. Oklahoma has home-and-homes set up with Tennessee, Ohio State, UCLA and Nebraska. The Sooners are firming up dates with LSU. Alabama has agreed to neutral-site games with West Virginia and Wisconsin.

All of which makes the Sugar Bowl even more special. Expect a lot of crimson.

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