NORMAN — Jalen Hurts has tunnel vision as Oklahoma prepares for Saturday’s game against Iowa State.
The Sooners quarterback made five references to being “1-0 this week” during a Monday news conference. Trying to get him off that response to questions, Hurts was asked how badly he wanted to be 1-0 this week.
“Pretty damn bad,” Hurts said.
The Sooners are coming off a 48-41 upset loss at Kansas State, which dinged their hopes for a College Football Playoff spot. On Tuesday night, they’ll get a hint of where they sit in the eyes of the selection committee when the first Top 25 ranking is released.
With one loss this season, the only thing they can control is winning their final four regular-season games and the Big 12 title contest.
“Every loss at OU is shocking. It hits you different. It hits you hard. This one was no different,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “The opportunities after it are no different either. It’s a chance for us to really rally as a team. We know the opportunities that are in front of us. We know what we can do if we play our style of ball and play to the level that we expect regardless of what the expectations are on the outside.
“That’s been our primary focus throughout the week and will be throughout the rest of the year. It’s a fight each and every week. You’ve got to be ready to bring your very best, and I think if we do that we’ll be in good shape.”
Riley said he will pay “zero” attention to the CFP committee’s top 25 release on Tuesday.
“You win games, you get a chance to win your league, you win this league then things take care of themselves. We’ve seen that as much as anybody over the last few years,” Riley said. “We’ve got a lot of great opportunities coming up. We’ve got to take care of ourselves right now and try to win every single game we possibly can. After that, it’s out of our control. We’ve just got to go win.”
In 2015 and 2018, the Sooners lost mid-October games to Texas before storming into the CFP. In 2017, Oklahoma lost a late September game against Iowa State before rallying for a berth in the four-team playoff.
For Kenneth Murray and CeeDee Lamb, that 2017 setback to the Cyclones was the first loss of their Oklahoma careers.
Murray said the Sooners came out on their home field and were outplayed.
“That’s pretty plain and simple about what happened against Iowa State my freshman year. But definitely do remember how the leaders and guys on the team rallied together after the game,” Murray said. “We came together and we went on that run and ended up going to the College Football Playoff.
“We definitely learned a lot from that and learned a lot from the leaders of that team, guys like (Baker Mayfield) and (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo), guys like that really just stepped up for us and lead us to where we wanted to be at the end of the season.”
Lamb suffered an injured shoulder after scoring a second-quarter touchdown against the Cyclones in 2017.
The wide receiver said he uses that play as motivation not only against Iowa State, but in every game this he plays.
“(I) take every play into consideration. You never know when it’s going to be taken away from you,” Lamb said. “Playing against these guys is another game on the schedule that we have an opportunity for.”
Lamb said he’s recognized the sense of urgency needed at practice to make a late-season run.
“Everybody has to put a little pep in their step to get to where you are going. Just get things done. We don’t want to waste no time. No wasted motions,” Lamb said. “Any things that are going wrong, you want to fix them and you want to put them on tape. Just have that ability to bounce around in practice and just do everything urgently or just have a sense to yourself to that, ‘Hey, I got to get this done quickly,’ is kind of the way to approach it here.”
“We’re trying to take the right approach,” Hurts added. “We’re controlling what we can control, working hard every day, talking about having the right intent and just learning from everything and moving forward.”