NORMAN — One thing Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has accomplished during his tenure is finding a cure for the Texas hangover. His teams are 13-0 in games following the Red River Rivalry. Seven of the victories were over ranked teams.
However, last season showed that the Sooners were susceptible to a post-Texas lull.
They were lethargic in a 47-17 victory over Kansas the following week and were then upset at home by Texas Tech. That team became complacent and stopped improving in the middle of October. Will that scenario play out again as the 10th-ranked Sooners (4-1, 2-1 Big 12) prepare to face the Jayhawks (1-5, 0-3) on Saturday at Owen Field?
“That’s a team thing,” defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said Monday. “You have to police each other. When someone is slacking, you have to pull them aside. After a game like Texas, you’ve seen what everyone can do. You expect that from them on every play. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing. As long as we police each other, we’ll be OK.”
The internal affairs division of OU’s locker room has been more vigilant this season than in the past. This team hasn’t dealt with many distractions since the season started. The focus — particularly in the last two games — has been exceptional.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t take much for attention spans to wane. Problems off the field eventually bled onto it last season.
“I think the big thing we learned from last year is that everything kind of affects everything you do on the football field. It affects what kind of team and what kind of discipline you have on the team,” quarterback Landry Jones said. “Last year, we had countless guys missing class, late for class and doing all those kinds of things. Those hurt us on the field because they got suspended from practice and then got suspended for games and those sort of things.
“Now I think we’re taking care of business off the field and I think we’re playing more disciplined on the field, for sure.”
Stoops has no complaints with his teams’ concentration thus far.
“So far through the year, we have been a more disciplined team, more accountable team to each other. And a lot of ways off the field or in the locker room, as well as on the field,” he said. “To me, you can’t be undisciplined off the field. Then you’re going to be (undisciplined) on the field.”
Of course, the Sept. 22 loss to Kansas State put the Sooners’ season on the brink of disaster. Texas Tech had OU’s undivided attention because it had taken an unfocused OU team to the woodshed the previous year, and it hadn’t beaten the Red Raiders away from Owen Field since 2003. Texas is, well, Texas. That game is circled on every calendar.
This Saturday’s game with Kansas doesn’t have the same kind of appeal. OU is a seven-touchdown favorite for a reason. It’s a game where coasting could be enough to win. After all, the showdown with No. 5 Notre Dame looms Oct. 27.
Stoops pointed to his record and doesn’t see an issue.
“Through the years, we have a pretty good record after Texas. Our season doesn’t begin and end with Texas. It never has,” he said. “In the end, we’ll be ready to play. We’ll do what we do every week. We’ll have the same preparation and hopefully get ourselves ready to play a good game against Kansas.”
John ShinnFollow me @email@example.com