The word “letdown” isn’t even in Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ vocabulary these days. Not with history, and more importantly, a shot at the national championship on the line every week.
The top-ranked Sooners (11-0, 7-0), arguably one of the most dominant teams in the rich tradition of Oklahoma football, will seek to complete a perfect regular season when they visit Big 12 South rival Texas Tech (7-4, 4-3) at Jones SBC Stadium on Saturday.
“This team is truly excited with the realistic possibility to remain undefeated and pursue a national championship,” Stoops said Tuesday. “It is right there in their sights. I really liked their attention yesterday at practice. The excitement, the enthusiasm, the fact that they realize this is a big challenge going to Texas Tech.”
Challenges have been hard to come by for the Sooners this year. Having secured a spot in the Big 12 title game with a 41-3 rout of Baylor last weekend, Oklahoma hasn’t received a serious threat to its unblemished mark since a 34-20 win over Oklahoma on Oct. 25. The only other time they faced a stiff challenge was in a narrow 20-13 triumph at Alabama on Sept. 6.
The Sooners, featuring the best defense and 10th-ranked offense in the nation, have beaten their last four Big 12 South opponents by a combined 235-25. Oklahoma’s 13-game winning streak is also the longest current run in the nation.
So with all that going for his talent-laden squad, how does Stoops keep his Sooners motivated for a matchup with Texas Tech, a team it has beaten in eight of the last 10 meetings, including the last three straight? Easy. He simply points to the numbers.
“They’re a team that’s averaging over 600 yards of offense every game, well over 40 points in every game, they have really produced in a better way than they have the last three years,” said Stoops.
“So they are playing in a better way offensively when you look at their production. We realize it is a major challenge—our guys are really excited about the opportunity to go down and compete with them and to try and finish this season with one more win before they take a break next week for Thanksgiving.”
Stoops failed to mention that the Red Raiders are unbeaten in five home games this year. Texas Tech, which last beat Oklahoma in Lubbock during the 1999 season, will be shooting for its 13th undefeated season at home and first since 1995.
However, the Red Raiders will doubtlessly still be feeling the lingering effects of a wild 43-40 shootout loss to Texas last Saturday.
Texas Tech appeared to be in position for the upset before Longhorns backup quarterback Chance Mock engineered a game-winning 86-yard drive in the final two minutes.
The clutch drive may have obscured another phenomenal performance by Red Raiders quarterback B.J. Symons, who passed for 365 yards and three touchdowns without an interceptions.
Symons, who will doubtlessly be the focus of Stoops’ gameplanning this week, needs just 83 more passing yards to break the NCAA’s single-season record of 5,188 set by BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990. Symons has already set the school and Big 12 records for touchdown passes with 47 this season, erasing marks set by his predecessor, Kliff Kingsbury, last year.
Symons will try to produce the first touchdown against the Oklahoma defense in four games.
“They’re going to get something,” Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “To shut them out for a whole game is virtually impossible. You’ve just got to limit their touches and make them work the field, not give up plays. That’s what we’ve done pretty effectively.”