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Lincoln Riley says Sooners expect to beat Alabama

Q. Where are you just two days from the game? Has it been a long process for you? Riley: “It’s a long process. Excited for the game to get here. You kind of hit this point in any of these bowls, probably especially a playoff, you’re just kind of ready for it to be here. We’ve prepared well, confident in the way our team has approached this entire month. We’ve had a great week here so far. Can’t wait for Saturday night.”

Talk about coming back to this position so many times; not that it’s a must, but how big would it be for this program to kind of move on to a championship scenario. “I don’t know if finally. This program has been in a lot of championships. But yeah, I mean, sure. It’s really tough to get here. It’s great being here, but we expected to win the first two that we were in, and we expect to win this one. And so we’ve always approached it that way. We know we’re playing a great opponent just like we have the first couple of times that we’ve been in these playoffs. That’s what they’re about. We’ve been really close. And certainly we want to finish the deal, but not for what’s happened in the past, just for this team right now. What’s in the past is in the past, and this team right now has as good a chance as anybody, and we want to take advantage because we do know how hard it is to get here.”

You start out as a coordinator, then you’re a head coach, how much have learned about being in this situation, in the playoffs? “You’ve learned a lot. I mean, even like a (media) day like today, you don’t do this at any other bowl game anywhere. I mean, there’s just some different things that go with these playoffs, the buildup. Seems like the entire country is focused on two games for about 30 days. There’s a lot of attention, a lot of buildup, a few different things that you have to do as far as handling it. I think our team is ready. None of this is new for us. The schedule, the early signing day, all that we talked about back in Norman is still a big factor and handling all that, and I think we’re more equipped to do it than we’ve ever been.”

You’ve talked recently about the excitement surrounding this program now, how there’s a higher level you see OU football going to. Is Alabama part of that picture as far as what they’ve done, is that kind of what you see for OU until the future? “I would never say anybody exactly because I think each program is in a different scenario, but you can’t ignore the success that they’ve had and how consistent they’ve been. And so I think there’s a lot of things that they do in their program that are outstanding that I think any program in the country would want to do or try to have the same type of success or setup. But at the end of the day, each place is different. Each place has different resources and a different part of the country, kind of has their own path to success. We’re just trying to be the best Oklahoma that we can be, and we think this thing can get a lot better.”

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