NORMAN — Nothing sharpens a team like games. A college football team will conduct close to 100 practices a year, but it’s the 13 or 14 games in which truly become better.
Oklahoma is coming off a game in which the progression was obvious. It looked like a tougher, sharper and more talented team in last Saturday’s 41-20 romp over Texas Tech.
“Hopefully we can build on it. I’ve said it a lot this week. Now, hopefully, we can get into a rhythm,” OU coach Bob Stoops said Monday. “We’ve had two off weeks the last three weeks. Everyone else has played five and six games … You really make your improvement when you’re on the field and playing in game situations. Hopefully, we can make some strides and keep improving.”
The 13th-ranked Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) will need to make more improvement as they prepare to meet No. 15 Texas (4-1, 1-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The Red River Rivalry has always served as a sort of mid-term exam for both programs. Although, many would argue it’s also been more like an October final, given the importance of the game to both fan bases and the history it’s played in determining the Big 12 champion.
Both teams expect to have to play their best to win. And OU feels its playing only three games the first five weeks of the season stunted its growth.
“You feel like every Saturday, you’re either getting better or you’re not,“ wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “We weren’t getting our chances to show we were improving by having those bye weeks. It felt like it slowed us a little bit.”
The performance against Texas Tech proved some strides were made.
The offense moved the ball at will the first three quarters. The defensive starters came up with three interceptions and didn’t give up a touchdown in the 11 series they were on the field.