|First things first: No. 6 Sooners focused on Big 12, not renewed national title hopes|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 09 October 2007 11:26|
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma is back in the national championship mix, though the Sooners would rather not talk about that.|
A series of losses by other top contenders has given Oklahoma (5-1, 1-1 Big 12) new life in the title race after its upset loss at Colorado two weeks ago, but the Sooners have another championship to chase first.
``You never know how things work out, when a team's gonna win or a team's gonna lose. ... We're just looking forward now to continuing the roll we're on and trying to win the Big 12,'' tailback Allen Patrick said Tuesday.
After slipping to No. 10 following the 27-24 loss at Colorado, the defending Big 12 champions bounced back to beat Texas 28-21 over the weekend while national title contenders Southern California, Wisconsin and Florida all lost.
So do the Sooners still see the national championship as a possibility?
``I think we do, but some more of those losses would have to happen,'' offensive lineman Brian Simmons said. ``I think we do, but right now our main goal is we're focusing on conference play, trying to concentrate on the Big 12 championship.
``If we win out, whatever happens, happens.''
It's fair to say that the Sooners haven't completely forgotten about the chance to play in a third national title game in a five-year span and win a second championship for coach Bob Stoops.
``I don't want to say you have to ignore it,'' said linebacker Lewis Baker, a defensive captain. ``That's always one of our goals. That's why people come here is to win the championship, to win it all.''
To have a chance, Oklahoma would likely need to win all of its remaining games and get help in the form of losses by several of the other unbeaten teams such as LSU, California, Ohio State, Boston College and South Florida. But in an increasingly unpredictable college football season, it's become the norm to expect the unexpected.
Stoops said he thinks most people believe it takes a mammoth set of circumstances for an upset to occur, but he sees ``a very fine margin between winning and losing.''
``I don't care who you are or who you're playing, it only takes a couple of plays,'' Stoops said. ``If you're not at your best, if you lack just a little bit of intensity and focus, if you're off just a hair ... if you make your share of mistakes, it can happen.''
This week, Oklahoma looks to continue its rebound against No. 11 Missouri (5-0, 1-0), which beat Nebraska 41-6 on Saturday. The Sooners are 8-0 the week after the Red River Rivalry under Stoops, although they'd also won their last seven game before facing Texas heading into the Colorado game.
``I just don't get the hangover deal. There isn't anyone in here walking around like we've done something,'' Stoops said. ``In the end, what does beating Texas do? It doesn't do anything. We're in the middle of the season, we've only played half of it.
``We're used to competing to win championships here, so you're not going to get a lot of pats on the back around here for not doing that. And the only way to do that is to win this week and keep doing it.''
At the least, beating Texas has kept Oklahoma out of undesirable territory. No team has ever won the Big 12 South title after starting out 0-2 in league play.
``Right now, I like where we're at because after the Texas win, we kind of control our own destiny in the South Division,'' Simmons said. ``We'll try our best to win out and see how things roll from there.''
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