Sugar Bowl notebook
Oklahoma defends controversial Sugar Bowl spot, national title claim
Posted: Tuesday December 30, 2003 11:16PM; Updated: Tuesday December 30, 2003 11:37PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Oklahoma defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek has heard all the talk about whether the 12-1 Sooners -- No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series standings but No. 3 in the Associated Press poll -- deserve to be here playing LSU for the BCS national title.
As you might expect, Dvoracek believes the system worked.
"The BCS has us No. 1," Dvoracek said. "All the numbers [strength of schedule, human and computer polls] went in and said we were 1 and they [LSU] were 2. That's how they designed it. I don't think you can dispute it."
There is of course plenty of dispute with Southern California, No. 1 in the AP poll, playing Thursday in the Rose Bowl against Michigan.
"There will always be controversy," Dvoracek said.
TIGER TURF: The Tigers said they didn't have problems on the AstroPlay synthetic grass. It was installed in the Superdome over a nine-day period last month.
"It's a little bit like the Georgia Dome," offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said. "I'd say the Georgia Dome turf might have been a little bit softer, but the surface is fine. It's nothing we're going to worry about."
LSU defensive end Marquise Hill said he had good traction on the surface.
"It gives with your knees when you cut," he said. "It's real good."
Hill said his joints felt better after practice on the AstroPlay than after a workout on the old-style artificial turf in LSU's indoor practice facility in Baton Rouge.
"Our facility's like concrete," Hill said. "It's hard."
AstroPlay is made of thousands of 2.2-inch fibrillated polyethylene fibers attached to a polypropylene backing. The 84,864 square feet of turf is filled with 264,000 pounds of cryogenically ground rubber and 112,000 pounds of sand.
The turf was manufactured at the SRI Sports plant in Dalton, Ga., but Superdome spokesman Bill Curl said the rubber compound in the turf comes from Oklahoma.
"So is that a home-field advantage or not?" he mused.
LATE DATE: For both LSU and Oklahoma, the Sugar Bowl's Jan. 4 kickoff will be the latest start on the football calendar in history. The Sooners played on Jan. 3, 2001, in the Orange Bowl when they beat Florida State 13-2 for the 2000 national championship.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had an easy answer for how to keep his players sharp for the late bowl.
"Start later," Stoops said in his typical matter-of-fact fashion. "We just arrived later than we would have if we were playing on the first."
TRIVIA TIME: Oklahoma is 4-1 in the Sugar Bowl, an .800 winning percentage that is the best for any team making five or more appearances in the game.
The Sooners are the only team in Sugar history to play in the game twice in the same calendar year.
Oklahoma made back-to-back Sugar Bowl trips in the early 1970s. The Sooners beat Auburn 40-22 on Jan. 1, 1972, then returned to beat Penn State 14-0 on Dec. 31.
That game marked the first of four straight Sugar Bowls that were played on New Year's Eve. The game has been played on Dec. 31 only once since then, when Virginia Tech beat Texas 28-10 in 1995.
TRIVIA TIME II: Nick Saban is the first coach in 30 years to take LSU to four consecutive bowl games.
Before bringing the Tigers to this year's Nokia Sugar Bowl, Saban had his first three LSU teams playing Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl, Illinois in the Sugar Bowl and Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
The Tigers won the Peach Bowl and Sugar Bowl before losing last season in the Cotton Bowl.
Charlie McClendon took LSU to bowl games from 1970 through '73. During those years, the Tigers played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, Iowa State in the Sun Bowl, Tennessee in the Bluebonnet Bowl and Penn State in the Orange Bowl.
LSU's only victory in those games came against Iowa State.
LSU teams from 1984 through '88 appeared in five consecutive bowl games, but that was accomplished under two coaches. Bill Arnsparger took the Tigers to two Sugar Bowls against Nebraska and one Liberty Bowl against Baylor. Mike Archer coached LSU against South Carolina in the Gator Bowl and Syracuse in the Hall of Fame Bowl.