By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It was less than two days after Oklahoma’s players, coaches and fans celebrated a victory most considered monumental and 12 days before the Sooners make their annual walk down the ramp at the Cotton Bowl.
What Oklahoma had done and what loomed two Saturdays away was on the mind of many. But all the 11th-ranked Sooners wanted to talk about Monday was their next game: TCU at 6 p.m. Saturday at Owen Field.
“We can’t have a letdown whatsoever. We have to win,” OU linebacker Corey Nelson said.
OU’s right where it wants to be.
It just won a highly-anticipated game against a traditional power. The win over the Notre Dame was OU’s first since 1956 and ended a seven-game losing streak against the Irish.
The Red River rivalry, a 365-day-a-year obsession for many Sooner fans, arrives Oct. 12.
Conventional wisdom says this is the time most teams might kick back and take a break. If not physically, then mentally.
OU coach Bob Stoops didn’t buy the premise in his weekly press conference Monday.
“We don’t play four games. We didn’t set the whole season up and work all year round to beat Notre Dame. It’s part of the cycle,” he said. “We’ve got another game this week, an important one.
“They’re all Big 12 games coming. No one around here is ever satisfied with beating one team. That’s not how it works. Maybe some other places, but not here. We’ve got to win this week and then the following week and the following week.”
In his previous 14 seasons, OU is 12-2 in the game prior to the Red River rivalry. The last time the Sooners went down to Dallas following a loss was 2007.
Perhaps players have completely bought into the notion the next game is just as important as the last. Even if some haven’t fully invested, the fact the Horned Frogs (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) entered the season as a contender for the Big 12 Conference title grabs some attention.
“They’re very, very good and we have to bring our ‘A’ game because they’re going to bring theirs,” Nelson said. “So that’s why I say it’s the most important game of the season so far. But this is actually a conference game that we have to win in order to take that next step to try and win the Big 12 championship.”
Many OU teams have said things like that in the past, yet failed to deliver the weekly focus required to make it so.
Many teams — including former OU squads — have been susceptible to letdowns.
The Sooners will know what kind of team they are by Saturday night. Teams that put together great seasons take confidence from big wins and build on them. They don’t have suffer a letdwon becasue they just won a big game and the Texas game is less than two weeks away.
“Every year, we have have Texas in the same position, so we always have someone before and after them,” Stoops said. “Whereever they are doesn’t matter. Everything is on TCU, period.
“Around here, we’re expected to be beat everybody. You only beat everybody by being ready for everybody.”
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