Oklahoma plays No. 1 Missouri Saturday in San Antonio for Big 12 title.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Defensive coordinator Brent Venables
opened a folder with notes about the last time Oklahoma
faced Missouri, and three words jumped off the page:
Must tackle better.
Heading into this week's Big 12 championship game
against the top-ranked Tigers, there's plenty of preparing
to do to get ready for the Chase Daniel-led offense
that ranks fifth in the nation in total offense and
sixth in scoring.
"Obviously they haven't really been slowed down
much. They've had success up 'til our game and since,''
The No. 9 Sooners (10-2, 6-2) come in with an air
of confidence, though, as the only team that's been
able to knock off Missouri this season. Oklahoma capitalized
on two fourth-quarter turnovers to score 18 straight
points in a 41-31 victory in Norman in mid-October.
The Tigers (11-1, 7-1 Big 12) have won six in a row
since then, including a 36-28 decision over then-No.
2 Kansas on Saturday.
"It's another big challenge, just excited about
it. They're a good team, we recognize that, but we
feel that we match up well with them obviously in all
parts of the game,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "That
makes it exciting.''
Oklahoma locked up a chance at a rematch with a
49-17 win against Oklahoma State on Saturday, a week
after a 34-27 loss at Texas Tech ended any hopes for
a national championship. Now the Sooners will have
a chance to play spoiler for Missouri's BCS title hopes
and earn their second straight trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
Stoops said he didn't buy into the belief that it's
more difficult for a team to beat an opponent a second
time in the same season. When asked separately about
the challenges presented by Daniel and Missouri's tight
end tandem of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, he had
similar responses: "We've dealt with that the last
two years with them. Right?''
Stoops is 3-0 against Gary Pinkel's Tigers, including
a 23-10 win last season in Columbia, Mo. While Missouri
will be playing in the Big 12 title game for the first
time, Oklahoma is in the conference championship game
for the sixth time in the past eight years.
"There's a lot of pride in that. I think it's obvious
when you look at what everyone else is doing anywhere
that it's not easy to do,'' Stoops said. "Winning
your conference championships, they're always exciting
and they're special. I think as a program, there's
a lot of pride there to be able to do it and to have
a chance again.''
Oklahoma won the Big 12 title game each of the past
four even-numbered years - in 2000, 2002, 2004 and
"That's one of our main goals is to be able to win
the Big 12 South and get in to play for a Big 12 championship,''
said tight end Joe Jon Finley, who caught two touchdown
passes against Oklahoma State. "The Big 12 Conference
is one of the best in the nation, and anytime you're
in that championship game with an opportunity to win
it, it's a special season.''
Stoops was pleased that Oklahoma played a "clean''
game against its in-state rival, going without any
turnovers and few penalties, and said his confidence
is built on the fact that the Sooners "haven't had
a lot of bad quarters'' this season. A turnover-filled
fourth quarter proved costly in a loss at Colorado,
and the Sooners were off-kilter the entire first half
when quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a concussion
in the Texas Tech loss.
The team looked different in the Bedlam rivalry.
"We came out and played with some emotion,'' Finley
said. "We felt like we hadn't been playing as hard
and with as much emotion the past couple of weeks,
and I think you could tell by the way we were running
around on and off the field out there that we were
having fun out there.''
With another emotional effort, Oklahoma will have
a chance to win its league-best fifth Big 12 title
and play in its sixth BCS bowl in the past eight years.
"The South trophy is nice, but we want the other
one,'' Stoops said. "To us, that's what matters is
"It's out there for us, and we've got to have a
big week getting ready for it.''