NORMAN, Okla. (AP) 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.”