NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Whatever Bob Stoops may have said about the overall strength of the Southeastern Conference, that apparently doesn't apply when it comes to the challenge he sees before 11th-ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
The Sooners' coach made that clear on the eve of Thursday night's matchup with No. 3 Alabama.
Stoops says Alabama, in his eyes, is "still the best team in the country."
Last spring, Stoops challenged the notion that the SEC - home of the last seven national champions - is the strongest league in the nation.
Now his Sooners (10-2), which play in the Big 12, can back that up by beating Alabama (11-1), but Stoops knows that won't be easy.
Oklahoma is rarely a double-digit underdog, but Alabama is listed as a 16-point favorite.