Title Game Berth on Line Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 14, 2007
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Don't expect coach Bob Stoops to plan any special touchdown celebrations or break out new jerseys to get No. 3 Oklahoma motivated for a pivotal final road game of the season. Just the prospect of clinching a spot in the Big 12 championship game should be enough to get the job done.

"These guys are bright, smart guys. To think you've got to do some kind of magical trick or something to say, "Hey do you want to go out and play hard?' that doesn't go in my mind," Stoops said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "It's about business, and you go out and you play. If you're capable of playing, you play well."

Trips away from Owen Field haven't been friendly to the Sooners (9-1, 5-1) this season. They suffered their only loss this season at Colorado, and their other two games outside the state were among their three wins by 10 points or less. That includes a 17-7 victory at Iowa State in their last away game on Oct. 20.

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Before that game, players were given a list of all the upsets in college football that had taken place. It was Stoops' own form of motivation, albeit less flashy than the Georgia's on-field celebration or new black jerseys in recent weeks.

This time, though, Stoops is counting on the Sooners' long-term road success to resurface without any razzle-dazzle.

"What is our road record compared to the rest of the league? It would be worth you probably looking into. You can ask every team in our league the same thing, or probably across the country," Stoops said. "What is their record?"

"To me, it's a question that goes to everybody. It's more difficult on the road with everyone. It always makes me chuckle like it's just us. We're probably better on the road than anybody in the league in the last eight years, I'm just guessing."

In Stoops' nine seasons, Oklahoma is 53-2 at home and 27-10 on the road. In Big 12 road games, the Sooners' 22-7 record in that span is second-best in the conference behind Texas (28-3). Even discounting a 1-2 record in Big 12 play in Stoops' first season in 1999, the Longhorns would still hold the edge.

The more recent history was a flat first half at Iowa State in which Oklahoma was shut out, and a mistake-filled finish that resulted in a 27-24 loss at Colorado.

"It is personal because a lot of people think that we kind of struggle on the road," running back Chris Brown said. "We've just got to get ready this week and prove to everybody that we can play on the road."

Stoops is simply defending his team when he points out that most college football teams, and even NFL teams, find it more difficult to play on the road. But that doesn't make his task any easier this week against the nation's top offense, which is averaging 542.8 yards, in front of its home crowd.

"You've got to be strong enough to overcome that comfort level the other team may have or the little extra energy they may have because they're in front of their home fans trying to create energy," Stoops said. "You create your own if you make the plays you're capable of making. Fans don't make plays. You make the plays, you've got your own energy."

The game Saturday night will be Oklahoma's first return to Texas Tech since a 23-21 loss two years ago on a controversial 2-yard touchdown run by the Red Raiders' Taurean Henderson as time expired.

That game ended up bumping the Sooners into a second-place tie in the Big 12 South, but it didn't have the implications on the conference championship and even the BCS that exist this time. The Sooners would clinch the Big 12 South title with a win in either of their last two games, and they're still in the national championship picture at fourth in the BCS standings.

"I realize we're in a good position. Is it the best position? No," Stoops said. "But with two or three games to go, the bottom line is all I can do anything about is getting prepared to be as good as we can be against Tech.

"That's what I've said to the players. All this talk and all this banter about, what does it do? The bottom line is Tech is all that matters to us -- winning at Tech, and if we do we're a step closer."



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