The best know how to do it. Winning is great, but rebounding off of a loss usually helps separates the contenders from the pretenders.
We’re going to get a glimpse about finding out this week where this group of Oklahoma Sooners belongs when OU plays at Kansas.
The Sooners (5-1, 2-1) are coming off their worst performance of the season, beaten soundly in all three phases of the game in a 36-20 loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry.
Any aspirations of a national championship have gone out the window, but the Big 12 conference championship remains fully within reach.
“That’s what you have to do,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Our season, win or lose this (Texas) game, isn’t the end-all and it never is. We go back to doing our work like we always do. We have six more conference games to go so that’s what you have to do.”
Only two teams remain undefeated in the conference with Baylor and Texas Tech, while Texas is undefeated in the conference but 4-2 overall. The Bears’ high-powered offense was stymied a bit in a tough 35-25 road victory at Kansas State last week.
The Red Raiders have had some tight games, but tight wins don’t matter. Wins matter, and Tech under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury is doing that.
No team has looked unbeatable, and the Sooners have been in this spot before. On two occasions OU has ended up winning the Big 12 despite losing to Texas. The Sooners won it outright in 2006, while OU held the BCS edge over Texas Tech and the Longhorns in 2008.
That doesn’t mean losing is easy to get over.
“Especially here,” said senior safety Gabe Lynn about getting over a loss. “You aren’t used to losing, but it’s a part of the game and you just have to move on and prepare for the next week.”
That’s’ one area the Sooners haven’t had a problem. OU is 14-0 following Texas under Bob Stoops. Not one slip up. Ever. There is no hangover, win or lose against the Longhorns, and that message was sent again this week by OU cornerbacks coach Bobby Jack Wright.
“That’s one thing Coach Wright said – we can’t let Texas beat us two weeks in a row,” redshirt freshman cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “We didn’t play the way we wanted or are capable of, but we have to put it behind us and move on.”
Lately the answer has been playing the Jayhawks. This season marks the fifth out of the last six where KU has been OU’s first post-Texas game.
The most competitive game was a 45-31 win in 2008, and the Sooners have scored at least 35 points in the games against the Jayhawks. OU has outscored KU 179-68 in the four games, and OU was even more impressive in the only non-KU game of the stretch, a 52-0 shutout of Iowa State in 2010.
OU still has games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor and has a chance to play its way right back into the conference title picture.
Of the top five teams in the standings (Texas, Tech, Baylor, OSU, OU), the only teams to have played against each other was last week’s OU-Texas battle.
And a loss might be a good thing for the Sooners. The 5-0 start had some believing the problems were solved for the club. The chip is back on the shoulder, especially for the defense.
“Absolutely,” said defensive lineman Geneo Grissom about playing with a chip on their shoulder. “At the beginning of the season we had high hopes for ourselves and this loss kind of changes that for us. I think we are a little bit upset with ourselves and the way the game went.”