John Klein: OU must be different at Lubbock
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Friday, October 05, 2012
10/05/12 at 3:28 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: OU must be different at Lubbock
A loss would erase hope for the rest of Oklahoma's football season.
A victory keeps alive the possibility of OU improving and becoming a factor in the Big 12 Conference race.
This is no longer a game Oklahoma would like to win. With Texas just ahead on the schedule, and coming right after a home loss to Kansas State, Texas Tech is the proverbial fork in the road for OU's football season.
Welcome to the first of what could be a series of "must-win" games for Oklahoma.
A year ago, Oklahoma responded to a shocking loss at home to Texas Tech by winning at Kansas State.
Now, the Sooners have to show some persistence by winning at Lubbock and giving themselves a chance to make something of this season.
"We did at Kansas State a year ago and didn't turn the ball over," said OU coach Bob Stoops. "I see the same kind of attitude in how they're working, coming to practice, coming to meetings, so in that regard, I do see the same kind of attitude and resiliency."
Texas Tech was the one spot in last year's Oklahoma season that doesn't make sense.
There is no shame in losing road games at Baylor and Oklahoma State, two pretty good teams with quarterbacks now starting in the NFL.
However, losing to Texas Tech at home last season, to snap a 39-game home victory streak, made no sense at the time. It makes even less sense now.
The Red Raiders left Norman with a 41-38 victory and followed it up by not just losing, but getting crushed, in their next five Big 12 Conference games.
"That was last year," said Tech coach Tommy Tuberville. "This year coming up, we'll get a different football team in terms of motivation."
Texas Tech was a bad team a year ago.
No one knows quite what to make of the Red Raiders this year.
Clearly, Texas Tech is better than it was a year ago. Whether they are good enough to beat Oklahoma is questionable.
Yes, Tech is 4-0 and just won at Iowa State.
Either Tech is dramatically better, especially on defense, or Iowa State is doomed to finish ninth in the Big 12 just ahead of Kansas.
Either way, Oklahoma needs to be concerned about this game. Not fearful. Just concerned.
"Interesting scenario of playing Oklahoma," said Tuberville. "All of the things that have kind of built up on them losing and then losing to us last year and then coming on the road.
"It will be a big-time atmosphere for us."
Oklahoma's Landry Jones has admitted he's not played well, so far. Jones has been inconsistent.
Oklahoma expected to be very explosive on offense and that might still materialize this season. However, to this point, the Sooners have not blocked very well up front, had trouble generating a running game and need more help at receiver.
So, it isn't fair to put it all on Jones. Everybody needs to play better.
"He didn't have a great game against us last year," said Tuberville. "I'm sure he's looking forward to getting back in the saddle and going against our defense. It will be a challenge for us. They can run. They can throw.
"It will be the most balanced team we've seen. Their defense has tremendous speed and they can cover ground. Last year was one of those nights where it looked like everything worked on both sides. That was last year."
This year it is a far different situation.
However, one thing doesn't change. Texas Tech is one of the most difficult Big 12 games for OU almost every year.
Since Stoops became coach at OU, Tech has beaten the Sooners five times. Only one other team (Texas) has beaten Stoops five times.
In addition, the Red Raiders have won three straight, dating back to 2005, against OU in Lubbock.
It is no longer a fluke when Tech beats OU in Lubbock. It is a trend.
The Red Raiders are 4-3 against Oklahoma since 2005.
What we're saying is Texas Tech has been as tough, if not tougher, for the Sooners than anyone in the Big 12.
"It didn't matter to Tech how many times we won here (in Norman against Tech)," said Stoops. "Last time they were here before last year we beat them 62-10 or whatever the heck it was and it didn't seem to matter a year ago. Everyone wants to tie years to other years and I don't see that it equates that way. We went to Kansas State a year ago and had a heck of a game. We didn't do that the other night.
"So, in the end, different years are different years."
It is critical for Oklahoma that this different year in Lubbock has a different result.