Pat Fields wants to feed an Oklahoma football monster that’s been starved for years.
“For our team, that’s our goal — a national championship,” Fields said after Saturday’s Big 12 Championship game overtime victory over Baylor.
“We’ve been working towards it. We haven’t won since 2000. It’s almost two decades later … we’re trying to bring one home.”
Former coach Barry Switzer coined the “feed the monster” phrase when talking about winning games and championships at Oklahoma.
On Sunday, Oklahoma earned the fourth seed in the College Football Playoff and a path to an eighth national championship.
The Sooners will face No. 1 LSU at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The Dec. 28 contest kicks off at 3 p.m. in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It’s only the third time that Oklahoma and LSU will have met on the football field. Oklahoma beat the Tigers 35-0 in the 1949 Sugar Bowl. LSU returned the favor in the 2003 Sugar Bowl with a 21-14 triumph that decided a national champion.
It is the third consecutive year and fourth time in the past five seasons that Oklahoma has advanced to the four-team playoff. OU is still searching for its first semifinal victory and championship game appearance.
The OU-LSU survivor will play in the CFP National Championship on Jan. 13 in New Orleans. Awaiting will be the Fiesta Bowl winner between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson.
Following an Oct. 26 loss at Kansas State, a trip to the CFP seemed distant for the Sooners. But inside that dejected locker room, OU coach Lincoln Riley emphatically reminded the players that his past two teams absorbed a mid-season loss, won the rest of their games and then advanced to the postseason event.
Each week, there didn’t seem a path widening to the playoff. After a close win over Iowa State, the Sooners fell to No. 10 with one month remaining. But OU kept piling together close wins — four of the five victories were settled in the final possession — while higher-ranked teams started tallying losses.
Riley’s speech in October became prophetic on Sunday.
“We’ve done it. We know how to do it. We’ve experienced it. We’ve lived it,” Riley said during a Sunday teleconference with LSU coach Ed Orgeron, before adding that the team’s players and staff members are different.
“There’s a belief that it’s possible. But believing it is possible and believing you really can do it are two different things,” Riley said. “And I think for the whole time, we really believed we could do it, but we knew we had to do some things better. Fortunately, we were able to get on a run there and win some games … having accomplished it before never hurts.”
OU quarterback Jalen Hurts is in the CFP for the fourth consecutive year after making three previous appearances with Alabama. The last time he played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, he was guiding Alabama to an SEC Championship win over Georgia last season.
Riley said Hurts’ familiarity with the stadium won’t hurt, but then threw out a 1980s movie reference.
“It’s kind of like the ‘Hoosiers’ scene, right? I mean, the field is going to be 100 yards long, and we’re going to try to put it in the end zone as much as we can and try to hold them out as much as we can,” Riley said. “Eventually, it’s going to come down to that. I certainly don’t think that’s going to be a differentiating factor.”
Orgeron is familiar with Hurts after playing the quarterback in the 2017 season. The Crimson Tide defeated LSU 24-10. Hurts threw for 183 yards and rushed for 44 in the SEC contest.
“He’s an outstanding player, and he actually beat us with his feet,” said Orgeron, recalling the game. “He made big plays with his feet, and he threw the ball very well.
“I haven’t watched him at all this year, but I have watched Coach Riley’s offense, especially that counter read. I’ve asked him about it. I think they’re one of the best in the country in running what they do on offense. They’re very difficult to stop.”
The Peach Bowl will feature the nation’s top two offenses. LSU is averaging 554.4 yards per game and engineered by quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite Joe Burrow. OU is getting 554.2 yards per game behind Hurts.
It will be a busy week for both coaches. The 2019 College Football Awards Show will be on Thursday and it’s a possibility that both quarterbacks will be Heisman Trophy finalists and attend the ceremony on Saturday.
Throw in recruiting and game planning and it’ll be a balancing act over the next seven days.
“It’s a good problem to have. But yeah, a week of it is challenging,” Riley said. “But hey, we’re going to go make the most of it so we’ll recruit while we’re on land, and we’ll study and prepare when we’re in the air. So it’s going to be like that for the next several days.”