Sooners and Tigers Square Off

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 28, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma dealt Missouri its only loss of the season back in October. The Tigers say they gave the game away. The Sooners say they took it.

Heading into the Big 12 championship game Saturday between No. 9 Oklahoma and top-ranked Missouri much has been made of how the first matchup turned out.

Word made it quickly to Norman that some Missouri players said they should have won the game if not for their own mistakes, and it got some of the Sooners (10-2, 6-2) riled up. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables had this reaction: "Hopefully we can get in their way this time. Hopefully we can luck out again.''

Missouri squandered a 24-23 fourth-quarter lead with a pair of turnovers, including a fumble linebacker Curtis Lofton returned for a touchdown, in that 41-31 loss. The Tigers have committed 12 turnovers in their 11 other games, but had a season-high four against Oklahoma.

2007 Big 12 Championship Central: Oklahoma vs. Missouri | Scouting Report: Mizzou | Boomer Bytes
Photos OU & Missouri Game Notes (PDF) | OU Depth Chart | 2007 OU Football Guide

Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel said the game was a turning point. The Tigers realized they can play with anyone and "we let one slip away.''

"You can spin it however you want. I know this: When we're kicking off with 2:20 left in the game, we're up three possessions. I'll take that every week. That's pretty good,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "If that's giving it to us, then we'll take it every time.''

Stoops pointed out that Oklahoma also committed two turnovers, and a missed extra point had the Sooners chasing points late in the game.

"I guess it's convenient to look at your miscues and not look at the other miscues,'' said Stoops, who credited his blitzing defense for causing one of Daniel's two interceptions and a tipped pass for the other one.

Oklahoma scored 18 straight points in the fourth quarter to take a 41-23 lead, then played a prevent defense to allow Missouri to march 80 yards for a score with 12 seconds left.

"We felt a lot of things we gave them,'' Oklahoma linebacker Lewis Baker said. "They earned some things too, but we gave them a lot of things - the touchdown towards the end of the game, just things like that. We feel like we can play better and always improve.''

What impact will the banter have on Saturday in San Antonio? Maybe none, or maybe a lot. When Oklahoma's Larry Birdine called Southern California a "one-and-a-half man team'' before the 2005 BCS championship game, the Trojans heard and were still talking about it after their 55-19 thrashing of the Sooners at the Orange Bowl. But that was much more direct name-calling.

"I think that helps certain people when people talk, and some people like to play against stuff like that,'' Sooners receiver Juaquin Iglesias said. "I think it just being a championship game and just everything around it will elevate more guys' play more than trash talking.''

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson didn't see anything inflammatory with Missouri's assessment of the last game.

"I don't think that's personal or a slight to us,'' Wilson said. "I think that's a lot of coaches and a lot of players every game just say, `We didn't win and could have done better.'''

In fact, Wilson said he came away from the Sooners' losses at Colorado and Texas Tech with similar feelings.

"I think that's every game you don't win. You could always go back and say, `If you do this.' We can say that in the games that we were on the short end,'' Wilson said.

In October, the Sooners capitalized on Missouri's mistakes by becoming the first team to establish a running game. After totaling only 40 yards rushing through the first three quarters, the Sooners ran for 78 in the final quarter and pulled ahead with two touchdown runs by Chris Brown.

"We came out with the win. However you win, you win,'' Baker said. "It's still a W at the end of the day.''



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