Alabama squares off in I-Bowl

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

(AP) &045; Alabama wants to prove it can live up to its glorious bowl history. Oklahoma State wants to keep building one.

Tonight’s Independence Bowl provides the next step for one of them.

The Crimson Tide will be making its third straight bowl appearance &045; the 54th overall. It’s a string of games that includes winning six national championships and more bowl victories than any other school in NCAA history with a 30-20-3 record.

Beating a team with that history would be a thrill, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.

But things are not what they should be with Bama. Alabama (6-6) barely made it to postseason play, and it arrived with an interim coach. Mike Shula was fired Nov. 26, and the search for a permanent replacement is underway for the fourth time since 2000.

Running back Kenneth Darby, who is wrapping up his college career at the Independence Bowl, doesn’t see what’s happened this year as a distraction.

Oklahoma State (6-6) was the Big 12 Conference’s last bowl-eligible team to earn a berth.

The Cowboys shook off a 4-7 record last season, and are playing in their fourth bowl game in five seasons. They haven’t had a run that good since playing five bowls in a six-season span from 1983-1988

The Associated Press contributed to this article.