The term trap game gets thrown around often, and there is no doubt to people outside the program that Oklahoma’s game against TCU this weekend is the exact definition of a trap game.
Coming off an emotional win at Notre Dame last weekend, the game with the Horned Frogs is nestled between the Irish and the Red River Rivalry showdown with Texas next week.
OU coach Bob Stoops isn’t worried about an emotional letdown. This isn’t the first time the Sooners have been in this type of position.
“You know, I always laugh at that because it happens every year,” Stoops said. “Two years ago we go to Florida State and beat them. I don’t buy it. I don’t look at it that way. This is not the first big non-conference game that we’ve had.
“We play Texas the same time every year. It’s always the same story – with the letdown before and after – and that hasn’t happened to us.”
The focus could be an issue if it wasn’t for the senior leadership of this season’s OU squad. With captains like linebacker Corey Nelson and center Gabe Ikard, there’s a reason they earned those distinctions.
They understand what letting down Saturday would mean in the big picture.
“The focus this week has to be 10 times better than it was last week,” Nelson said. “We have to be even more focused than we were against Notre Dame because we cannot let TCU come in here and beat us.
“We have to continue with the intensity. We have to continue to be humble and hungry with everything we are doing.”
OU used to be hallowed ground for the Sooners, but OU has looked beatable at Owen Field the last two seasons. The invincibility that once was there is gone as the Sooners have lost three games at home in the last two seasons.
While OU has not had an issue rising up to the emotional challenge against Texas, that hasn’t always been the case against some of the other teams.
“TCU is a great team,” defensive end Geneo Grissom said. “They’ve got a great quarterback, great offense. That’s when teams get beat – when you take teams lightly.”
One thing that will be in OU’s favor is the anticipation for what should be the biggest recruiting weekend of the season. The stars have aligned for the Sooners as several five-star and four-star prospects are set to visit OU this weekend.
It won’t hurt to have former running back Adrian Peterson back at OU as well. With the Minnesota Vikings on a bye week, Peterson is returning for the game.
Peterson is the favorite running back of Oakley (Calif.) Freedom five-star running back Joe Mixon, who is one of the top visitors this weekend.
None of that might matter, though. No extra motivation is necessary. Winning means enough.
“Winning is exciting,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Our players are excited to get back to work. Losing doesn’t feel good. When you’re losing and losing and you have to go to practice, it’s not a good feeling.
“I’ve been in that situation before, and I’d rather be in this situation going to practice with all your goals in front of you.”