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Oklahoma vs. Alabama: A look at how two of college football’s most storied programs stack up

Head games

Legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant remains a fashion icon long after his death thanks to the houndstooth hat he made famous. Winning also looks good and Bryant did plenty in 25 seasons, going 232-46-9 with five national titles.

Barry Switzer was a little less subtle with his attire, sporting an iconic “Beat Texas” hat. That slogan still makes for a popular hat today. The Sooners beat Texas and many others in his 16 seasons, going 157-29-4 with three national titles.


Modern-era legend

Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa before the 2007 season having already won a national title (2003, LSU). But few could have imagined the results he would deliver in 12 seasons at Alabama, going 145-20 with five national titles.

Just like his former boss at Florida, Bob Stoops made the visor his go-to accessory. Also just like Steve Spurrier, Stoops won big in Norman, going 190-48 with a national title (2000) in 16 seasons as the Sooners’ head coach.


Last Heisman winner

Derrick Henry gave Alabama its second winner in seven seasons (Mark Ingram, 2009) after rushing for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2015. Henry avoided any Heisman curse, leading the Tide to an epic national title win over Clemson.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was the presumed favorite for much of this season even as Kyler Murray posted video-game numbers week after week. The Tide likely turned with a Big 12-title effort against Texas.


In the pros

Good luck trying to pick the best Crimson Tide player in NFL history. There have been 372 Alabama players selected in NFL or AFL drafts. Quarterbacks alone, there are Super Bowl winners in Joe Namath, Ken Stabler and Bart Starr. Running back Shaun Alexander (above) is the Tide’s most recent NFL MVP, winning it in 2005 with the Seattle Seahawks.

Putting together an all-time Sooner NFL team could just as hard as selecting one of Tide alums. The Sooners top the Tide in players drafted (404). Three-time Super Bowl winner Troy Aikman had the most successful NFL career of any former OU player, but he left for UCLA. Adrian Peterson (above) is OU’s most recent NFL MVP, winning in 2012 with the Vikings.


Oklahoma fullback Jim Grisham (45) plows up the middle for a 22 yard gain in first quarter of game with Alabama in the Orange Bowl in Miami Jan. 1, 1963. At left end John Porterfield puts a block to the midsection of Alabama center Lee Roy Jordan (54).(AP Photo)
Oklahoma fullback Jim Grisham (45) plows up the middle for a 22 yard gain in first quarter of game with Alabama in the Orange Bowl in Miami Jan. 1, 1963. At left end John Porterfield puts a block to the midsection of Alabama center Lee Roy Jordan (54).(AP Photo)

Head-to-head series

Jan. 1, 1963: Orange Bowl
(8) Alabama 17, (5) Oklahoma 0

Oklahoma 0 0 0 0—0
Alabama 7 7 3 0—17
Orange Bowl Stadium, Miami
Attendance: 72,880

President John F. Kennedy was in attendance for the first matchup between Oklahoma and Alabama. Joe Namath threw an early touchdown pass for the Crimson Tide. Fullback Jim Grisham (above) and the Sooners couldn’t gain much traction after that.

Oklahoma linebacker Steve Casteel (44) stops Alabama back Buddy Seay (47) after Seay had picked up five yards for the Crimson Tide in second quarter action in the Astro Bluebonnet Bowl game in Houston, Dec. 31, 1970. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky)
Oklahoma linebacker Steve Casteel (44) stops Alabama back Buddy Seay (47) after Seay had picked up five yards for the Crimson Tide in second quarter action in the Astro Bluebonnet Bowl game in Houston, Dec. 31, 1970. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky)

Dec. 31, 1970: Bluebonnet Bowl
(20) Oklahoma 24, Alabama 24

Alabama 7 7 3 7—24
Oklahoma 7 14 0 3—24
Houston Astrodome
Attendance: 53,822

The Sooners’ second appearance in the now-defunct Bluebonnet Bowl and against the Tide ended in a now-defunct result — a tie. Gregg Pruitt ran for a pair of touchdowns (on runs of 58 and 25 yards) to lead OU. Bruce Derr’s 42-yard field goal gave OU a 24-24 tie.

Oklahoma receiver Mark Clayton clutches the ball with two hands en route to the end zone for a score Saturday, Sept. 7, 2002, during first half action against Alabama in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)
Oklahoma receiver Mark Clayton clutches the ball with two hands en route to the end zone for a score Saturday, Sept. 7, 2002, during first half action against Alabama in Norman, Okla. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Sept. 7, 2002: Regular season
(2) Oklahoma 37, Alabama 27

Alabama 3 0 14 10—27
Oklahoma 9 14 0 14—37
Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium, Norman
Attendance: 75,564

The first regular-season game between OU and Alabama lived up to the hype. Mark Clayton (above) caught two touchdowns as the Sooners built a 23-3 lead, but the  Crimson Tide scored the next 24 points. The Sooners scored two TDs in the final 2:11 for the win.

Tuscaloosa, Ala., September 6, 2003. University of Oklahoma (OU) Sooners at University of Alabama Crimson Tide college football in Bryant-Denny stadium. OU's Teddy Lehman (11) tackles Alabama's Shaud Williams (21) in the third quarter. Staff photo by Nate Billings.
Tuscaloosa, Ala., September 6, 2003. University of Oklahoma (OU) Sooners at University of Alabama Crimson Tide college football in Bryant-Denny stadium. OU's Teddy Lehman (11) tackles Alabama's Shaud Williams (21) in the third quarter. Staff photo by Nate Billings.

Sept. 6, 2003: Regular season
(1) Oklahoma 20, Alabama 13

Oklahoma 6 7 7 0—20
Alabama 0 3 7 3—13
Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Attendance: 72,880

Soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Jason White threw touchdown passes of 46 yards to Mark Clayton and 47 yards to Brandon Jones. Teddy Lehman and the Sooners held on for the second of 12 consecutive wins. First-year coach Mike Shula and the Tide went 4-9.

Oklahoma's Trevor Knight (9) celebrates a touchdown during the NCAA football BCS Sugar Bowl game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (UA) at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. .Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Trevor Knight (9) celebrates a touchdown during the NCAA football BCS Sugar Bowl game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (UA) at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. .Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Jan. 2, 2014: Sugar Bowl
(11) Oklahoma 45, (3) Alabama 31

Oklahoma 14 17 0 14—45
Alabama 10 7 7 7—31
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Attendance: 70,473

OU quarterback Trevor Knight had a game for the ages against the two-time defending BCS national champions, completing a Sugar Bowl-record 32 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. The Crimson Tide entered the game as 16.5-point favorites.

Alabama all-time

115 seasons
918-302-42 overall record
26 conference titles
68 bowl appearances
40-25-3 bowl record
69 consensus All-Americans
2 Heisman Trophy winners
15 National championships


Oklahoma all-time

110 seasons
843-304-47 overall record
45 conference titles
51 bowl appearances
29-21-1 bowl record
67 consensus All-Americans
7 Heisman Trophy winners
7 National championships

Related Photos
Oklahoma's Trevor Knight (9) celebrates a touchdown during the NCAA football BCS Sugar Bowl game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (UA) at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.  .Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma's Trevor Knight (9) celebrates a touchdown during the NCAA football BCS Sugar Bowl game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide (UA) at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. .Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

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Jeff Patterson

Jeff Patterson is the sports editor of The Oklahoman. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, he allegedly once told his father on a childhood trip passing through Oklahoma that he would one day live there. He doesn't recall this, but he fulfilled that... Read more ›

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