Oklahoma faces Texas at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- In recent years, the Red River
Rivalry game between Oklahoma and Texas has become
the gateway to the Big 12 Conference championship,
the Bowl Championship Series and sometimes even more.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sees no reason why a couple
of upsets should change any of that.
"We understand it's a big game. We always have
looked at it that way," Stoops said. "It's
like it always is. You have to win it."
After blowing out its first four opponents by just
under 50 points per game, it looked like Oklahoma (4-1)
had seen its national championship hopes go up in thin
air with a 27-24 loss at Colorado on Saturday.
But a line of upsets followed, with fellow top-15
teams Florida, Texas, Rutgers and Clemson all losing
to unranked foes. West Virginia, which had been ranked
fifth, also fell victim to an upset a night earlier.
"I think that it's obvious what happened (Saturday)
around the whole country that there's a lot still that
can happen and you've just got to keep playing," Stoops
The Red River Rivalry lost some of its intrigue
when both the Sooners and Longhorns lost, but both
teams control their own destiny since their defeats
came against Big 12 North foes. Texas fell from No.
7 to No. 19 following its 41-21 loss to Kansas State.
"Guys will be excited and charged up and ready
to play the next one. It's a big game obviously," Oklahoma
defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "They
all are. Win or lose (Saturday), it's still the same
situation in regards to the dynamics of the game and
what it does to the Big 12 South. Obviously, all of
our goals are sitting in front of us."
After losing a game in which two interceptions and
a muffed punt limited his football team to only 19
offensive plays in the second half -- compared to 46
for Colorado -- Stoops said it was "worth consideration" whether
his defense became mentally fatigued.
"I'm not going to sit here and make any excuses.
You play the best you can in every game, and that's
just the way it happened," Stoops said. He also
said the theory that his team let down mentally after
taking a 24-7 third quarter lead would "be a convenient
excuse, but I don't believe that."
"We've got to be better," Stoops said. "We
were in position in some plays. We've got to be able
to make some plays when we have to. You know, we weren't
far off. ...
"We'll learn from it and get better from it.
Up until the middle of the third quarter, there's a
lot of good about that game. We've got to be able to
finish it. Whether it's their attitude and mental state,
whether it's just the ability to make plays when you
have to in the fourth quarter, we've got to be able
to make them."
Oklahoma's coaches said it was a breakdown in the
team concept in which the offense couldn't help the
defense, and vice versa. That left the defense almost
continuously on the field, becoming increasingly fatigued
and unable to make a stop.
"Late in the game, I think it probably was
a factor in not being able to make a play when you
had to. But the bottom line is you teach and you push
and demand these guys to make no excuses. Regardless
of the situation, you've got to respond," Venables
"We're really close and we've got to find a
way to get it done in those situations -- bottom line."
Even in different circumstances, the Longhorns still
present the first hurdle for the Sooners if they're
to salvage a season that started with such high expectations.
"For us, it's still a big game," Stoops
said. "Our goal is always to win the South and
the Big 12 championship, and that's a big game towards