Hawkins gets 2nd chance to upset No. 11 Oklahoma

Cody Hawkins’ return to the Colorado starting lineup brings no

added comfort to No. 11 Oklahoma.

Even if the Buffaloes come to Owen Field as a heavy underdog

with Hawkins filling in for injured quarterback Tyler Hansen, the

Sooners remember all too well what happened the last time they went

up against the coach’s son.

”He was a freshman and he beat us,” defensive coordinator

Brent Venables said. ”We had a pretty good team when he beat us.

Now, he’s a senior and he’s even better. That’s what we take from

it, that he’s experienced, he’s got a lot I think he’s playing for,

he’s very tough-minded and he’s a captain. Players respect

him.”

It was back in 2007 when Hawkins outdueled fellow freshman Sam

Bradford, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy a year later.

As he takes over for Hansen, who had surgery this week on a

ruptured spleen and will miss the rest of the regular season, that

27-24 victory over the third-ranked Sooners still ranks as Hawkins’

most significant victory with the Buffaloes.

”If you aren’t fired up when you’re going to play OU, then

you’re in the wrong sport,” Hawkins said. ”I think everybody is

really excited about it and definitely having that experience

before is something that gives you a little bit of confidence. But

we know they’re going to be using that as motivation too.

”Even though we played decent last time we played them, we have

to come out better this time because we’re going to be at their

place and they’re a different football team.”

Colorado (3-4, 0-3 Big 12) enters Saturday night’s game on a

14-game road losing streak that’s the longest in school history,

while Oklahoma hasn’t lost on its home field since the 2005 season

opener. The Sooners’ run of 34 straight home wins is both a school

record and the longest active streak in the nation.

But the last time these teams met, Oklahoma was riding high

after blowing out its first four opponents 246-47 and lost to a

team that had won only four of its previous 14 games. This time,

the Sooners are trying to bounce back from their first loss of the

season, 36-27 at Missouri last week.

”It’s been obvious watching everyone that anybody can beat

anybody, in this league and about anywhere,” Sooners coach Bob

Stoops said. ”More so this year than anytime. You’d have to have

your head in the sand not to see that, so our guys get it.”

Each team can sympathize with the other’s fourth-quarter woes

this season. Together, they’ve been outscored by 70 points in the

final period this season. Colorado blew a two-possession lead at

home for the first time in 24 years in last week’s 27-24 loss to

Texas Tech.

Oklahoma (6-1, 2-1) had been able to squeak by with poor fourth

quarters against Utah State, Air Force, Cincinnati and Texas but

gave up 16 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to squander a

21-20 lead against Missouri.

”In the end, it’s frustrating because I know we’re capable of

playing well through the game,” Stoops said. ”When you play that

well for three quarters, there’s no reason it should change when

schemes and everything haven’t changed at that point in the

game.”

The last time these teams met, there was also a fourth-quarter

meltdown by the Sooners. They led 24-7 in the third quarter and

24-10 in the fourth before Hawkins and a solid running game lifted

Colorado to the victory.

”I think everybody thinks that we’re probably feeling sorry for

ourselves, but not at all. Cody beat OU two years ago, I think Cody

is a great quarterback, he’s a great passer and that’s something he

can bring to the table now,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said.

”As far as the team morale, nobody feels bad for themselves,

nobody feels sorry. We’ve been through this plenty of times, it’s

not like we’re going to hang up our cleats. We’re trying to play

ball until the end of the year.”