As he got off the plane in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday night, Oklahoma junior defensive lineman Amani Bledsoe couldn’t help but think of last year.
“We all have a chip on our shoulder and remember the hurt and pain we felt after the loss, but it’s a new year and a new team — so excited about this group,” Bledsoe said.
On New Year’s Day 2018, the Sooners fell to Georgia 54-48 in overtime in the Rose Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
This season, on a different coast, No. 4-ranked Oklahoma is looking for a different result as they arrived to finish preparations for the Orange Bowl vs. No. 1 Alabama on Saturday in nearby Miami Gardens, Florida (7 p.m., ESPN).
The Sooners are in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, still searching for their first CFP win.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley once again didn’t have an update on the health status of wide receiver Marquise Brown, who was injured in the Sooners’ Dec. 1 Big 12 Championship Game win over Texas, but said several Oklahoma players who have been recovering from injuries suffered late in the season are back healthy.
“We think we’ve had a good balance of rest, getting their bodies back, getting some injured guys back healthy, which that was a pretty long list two, three weeks ago,” Riley said. “So we think we’ve made some improvements there.”
But the break has its issues as well.