Is Trevor Knight a one-hit wonder?

Oklahoma's playoff hopes are riding on Trevor Knight, who had a breakout game in the Sugar Bowl. AP Photo/Rusty Costanza

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NORMAN, Okla. -- The world is full of one-hit wonders.

Vanilla Ice. Buster Douglas. Harper Lee.

Yet Oklahoma's chance of seriously contending in the first year of the College Football Playoff hinges on whether Trevor Knight's Sugar Bowl performance was a one-off.

Or instead, a sign of what's to come.

"I expect that every game," said the Sooners' sophomore quarterback. "That's the baseline. I want to build on top of that."

Doing his best Douglas impersonation, Knight knocked out the defending champs in New Orleans in January. He completed 32 of 44 passes, threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and led the underdog Sooners to a 45-31 victory over Alabama in one of the biggest upsets of the BCS era.

"That just showed the talent that we had seen in him," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. "We just want to see it more consistently on Saturdays, but I think it's going to happen. He's in a position to move forward with it."

Although Texas and Baylor hammered Oklahoma earlier in the same season, the Sugar Bowl showing single-handedly has catapulted the momentum-filled Sooners from national afterthought into playoff hopeful.

Oklahoma returns the bulk of its defense from last year, including ferocious pass rushers Eric Striker and Geneo Grissom, who teamed up to sack Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron six times. The Sooners also boast the most experienced offensive line in the Big 12, and one of the league's most prolific pass-catchers in three-year starter Sterling Shepard.

But the predominant reason for optimism in Norman is based largely on a quarterback who completed less than 60 percent of his passes, lost his starting job early in the season, and has started and finished just three games in career.

Yet there were signs leading up to the Sugar Bowl that suggested Knight was capable of such a performance.

He first began turning heads two years ago as a scout-team quarterback imitating Johnny Manziel as the Sooners prepared to play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma couldn't stop the real Manziel, who broke several Cotton Bowl records in a rout of the Sooners. But the Oklahoma defense couldn't stop Knight in practice, either.

"We've known Trevor was going to be a great quarterback," said Sooners offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson. "It was just a matter of him showing everybody else that."

Knight carried his Manziel experience over into last preseason. Even though Blake Bell was the heir apparent to Landry Jones after two successful seasons operating the "Belldozer" short-yardage package, Knight stunned outsiders to beat out Bell and win the starting position.

But Knight struggled with his nerves and his passing accuracy in Oklahoma's first two games. He also injured his knee and elbow in Week 2, which allowed Bell to temporarily reclaim the job.

"Early in the year, it wasn't anything he couldn't do," said Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez. "It was just him believing in himself."

Despite the rough beginning, Knight never stopped believing in himself. And when Bell suffered a concussion in mid-November, Knight made the most of his second chance.

"Going through that adversity, I learned how to lead from a different way," he said. "I learned how to overcome adversity."

As a precursor to the Alabama game, Knight shredded Kansas State's defense on the road, handing the Wildcats their only loss in their final seven games. On Oklahoma's opening drive, Knight tossed a 12-yard touchdown strike to Shepard on third-and-goal, setting the tone for the day and the rest of the year. He finished with 14-of-20 passing and ran for another 82 yards and a touchdown as the Sooners outgunned K-State 41-31 to lay the groundwork for their late-season surge.

"In that Kansas State game, you could kind of see the light coming on for him," Thompson said.

Knight injured his wrist just before halftime the next week at Oklahoma State. But even though Bell came in to throw the winning touchdown to beat the Cowboys with seconds remaining, the Oklahoma coaching staff turned the offense over to Knight full time leading up to the Sugar Bowl.

"Everyone battled as a team," Knight said. "And it all came together at the right time at the end."

Did it ever.

For Knight and for Oklahoma.

As two-touchdown underdogs, the Sooners were up against the ropes early. Alabama scored four plays into the game, then intercepted Knight off a tipped pass on Oklahoma's ensuing possession.

But Knight bounced back fast. He heaved a 45-yard touchdown to Lacoltan Bester on his very next throw. And with his arm and his wheels, he put the vaunted Crimson Tide on their heels the rest of the night.

"For him, it was the perfect storm of everything coming together," said Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who befriended Knight at the Manning Passing Academy this summer. "I wasn't ready mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually to handle all that comes with [being the starting quarterback] until a couple of years down the road after my freshman year."

With Bell now at tight end full time and Knight brimming with confidence as the clear-cut starter, everything appears to have come together.

"These first few days of camp, the way he's throwing the ball, I feel like those Alabama dudes did. It's crazy," Sanchez said. "His confidence is there, his leadership is there.

"I feel like it's going to be a huge year for Trevor."

Now, Knight is looking for more. He wants to be the quarterback who leads Oklahoma into the playoff. Not just the one-hit wonder who beat Alabama.

"I think I'm a different guy from the Sugar Bowl," he said. "That's the past.

"I'm excited about taking that confidence we gained from the Sugar Bowl -- and carrying it into this season."