The Oklahoma Sooners are in the College Football Playoff for the third time in four years but they may face their most daunting task yet in the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. An early 14-point underdog is no doubt a motivating factor but how that will ultimately affect the X’s and O’s of the game has yet to be discussed.
Before we jump into game planning and strategy there are four pressing questions regarding this specific matchup that should be discussed.
Is Lack Of Respect Enough Of A Motivation?
Famed comedian Rodney Dangerfield gets more respect than Oklahoma’s defense these days. That’s not high praise for Dangerfield as much as it is an indictment against the men defending the OU goal line.
The Sooners rank 108th nationally in total defense after running through the gauntlet of Big 12 offenses. Now they get ready to face an Alabama offense that will have zero respect for their defensive counterparts, nor will then national media covering the game.
Granted, Oklahoma hasn’t provided much of a reason for being respected but there’s never been a defensive unit enter the playoff with this bad of a reputation. If the Sooner defense is going to get any respect at all in South Florida then they’re going to have to earn it on the field.
Is being the least respected defensive unit in the country enough to motivate Oklahoma’s defense? Is motivation enough to deliver the type of performance the Sooners need to be in a position to win the game?
This defense spent an entire conference season facing quick strike/high-octane offenses. They’re familiar with the concept of what Alabama is going to try to do. The Sooners made just enough stops and had just enough big plays to retain their status as Kings of the Conference. Can they do the same against Bama?
If not, I doubt it’ll be due to a lack of motivation.