NORMAN — Whatever it was couldn’t be seen by the naked eye. Whether it was felt depends on who was answering the question and when it was asked.
The “it” was Oklahoma’s uncanny ability to win home games. From 1999-2011, the Sooners went 75-3 on their home field, running off streaks of 17, 19 and 39 consecutive victories.
However, when the 14th-ranked Sooners (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) face Baylor (4-4, 1-4) on Owen Field at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, they’ll be trying to start a winning streak and win at home for just the third time in five tries.
This season’s losses to No. 3 Kansas State on Sept. 22 and No. 4 Notre Dame on Oct. 27 have altered the perception.
“Very disappointing to lose at home,” center Gabe Ikard said. “Twice in one year is something that’s unheard of for the last decade or so.”
Actually, you have to go back to 1998 — John Blake’s final season in command of the Sooners — to find a season blemished by two home losses.
Does that mean the Sooners have lost the mystique they formerly possessed?
OU doesn’t believe that’s the case. It would mean they would have to admit there was an aura to begin with.
“No team is invincible,” OU linebacker Tom Wort said.
The Sooners never believed they were, but their ability to win at home was something they could hang their hat on when they struggled away from home. From 2009-11, OU went 13-9 in games away from Owen Field. This season, the Sooners are 4-0 on the road with every win coming by at least 15 points.
Anyone who asks anything about the Sooners losing at home is quickly reminded of just who those losses were against.
“Hey, we lost to the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked football teams in the nation. They’re good teams. Do we have a chance to win those games? Yes, we did,” quarterback Landry Jones said. “They’re gone and so this team has not forgotten who we are. Just because we lost two games, we don’t think we’re just some slack team that’s going to go out there and not play hard and not play good. We always remember who we are and what kind of talent we have and this couple game stretch we have here at the end of the year, we’re going to go out there and try and play our best football.”
For years, the Sooners’ best always seemed to come out when they were wearing crimson and playing in Norman. Maybe that will return against the Bears. Saturday’s game is one of two home games OU still has on the schedule. There’s a chance to start another winning streak as the 2012 season draws to a close. Just don’t bring up the history to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. He downplayed the significance of OU’s home dominance for years. Losing two home games this season doesn’t mean anything has changed.
“We’ve got a decent home record,” he said. “You’re not gonna win every one at home for 14 years. Home-field advantage is pretty decent. All the sudden now we can’t win at home, OK, yeah. I don’t buy any of that.”
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org