Sooners don’t want to talk about playing spoiler to OSU
NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was a bit late for his regular noon, Monday meeting for his weekly address.
While out recruiting in California, Stoops had a hard time getting back to Oklahoma City, due to fog in the area.
His brother Mike stepped in until Stoops could arrive.
And here are a few other things we learned Monday from Norman.
This is not a spoiler situation for Oklahoma
Center Gabe Ikard didn’t want to talk about the fact that Oklahoma State has so much more to gain as well as lose and his Sooners don’t have a shot at the Big 12 title.
It’s certainly a rarity in a series that is so lopsided in history as well as since coach Bob Stoops took over. Stoops is 7-1 against OSU coach Mike Gundy and 11-3 against the Cowboys overall.
“The fact that you call us a spoiler, I’m not going to even answer that,” Ikard said. “It’s one of the great rivalries in college football. They have played better football than us this year, no doubt. We’re just happy for the opportunity to play a great game in a great atmosphere. It will be fun to play. We don’t see ourselves as an underdog. They are favored and we’re still Oklahoma.”
And Oklahoma is, by most listings, a 10.5-point underdog.
But back to the spoiler situation.
Oklahoma State is 10-1 and 7-1 in the conference. OSU is ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the in the BCS. While OU is playing for a better bowl, OSU is playing for something bigger – like a BCS bowl.
Sounds like a spoiler situation to me.
So, why do OU players and coaches want OSU to be good?
OU leads the series 83-17-7. We get that, but OSU’s ascension under Gundy is remarkable. New facilities, a BCS win, a Big 12 title. The gap in the overall series is not narrow, but the difference between the teams in talent now seems paper-thin.
“I’m glad they’re that good,” Sooner running back Brennan Clay said.
But why? And is that such a good thing?
Well, most might say if OSU takes the lead in a college football arms race, it would force OU to try and at least keep up. However, in the long run, the Sooners would be better off not having to deal with Oklahoma State winning. Stoops is in the business of winning games, and yeah, better facilities and other side pieces matter, but victories are the determining factor. The Sooners don’t need anyone to push them for recruits or push them on the field, either.
“I prefer them to be good and us to be good,” Ikard said. “There’s so much parity everywhere. That’s what rivalries are about.”
It’s definitely fun for fans, fun for story lines and fun to talk about, but winning is hard to do, so why would OU want more challenges on their schedule?
Stoops wouldn’t say taking OSU down a notch was a concern. But in the big picture, having OSU struggle is better for Sooner business.
“All I look at it our season and our team,” Stoops said. “I have no thoughts on the other team whether it’s Oklahoma State or anyone else.”
There were no quarterback issues to speak of
Concerns at quarterback? Well, it’s kind of been the storyline of the season as the Sooners have dealt with everything from who the starter is or should be, to who’s healthy and hurt. Oh, and mix in plenty of talk surrounding the third-string quarterback Kendal Thompson and you have a full-blown situation.
That’s what OU has dealt with all year.
But not in the past two weeks. Since Trevor Knight re-emerged as the starter, playing a great second half against Iowa State and following it up with a great game against Kansas State, the Sooner coaches have been able to catch their breath and relax.
There were no true questions about Knight’s worthiness Monday. That’s what happens when the team runs for 405 yards against Iowa State and then for 301 against Kansas State. Oklahoma scored more than 40 points in both games.
“He’s operating much more at ease and is comfortable,” Stoops said of Knight. “The pace and the timing. Not rushing plays and allowing them to unfold while you execute.”
More importantly, Knight’s improved play has allowed the team to move forward. One less thing to worry about.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK