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December 23, 2013

OU hoping to avoid embarrassing collapse like last season’s Cotton Bowl

NORMAN — The time to rest began for Oklahoma this weekend. Practice is over until the Sooners reconvene prior to leaving for New Orleans Friday.

The Sooners are excited about playing Alabama. They’re also well aware of what can happen if they’re not completely focused.

“I don’t want to finish anything like we did last year,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said.

Last season’s ending was an abysmal 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. It was a game were the Sooners appeared to be overmatched and uninspired throughout the second half.

The lasting impression was something OU had to carry throughout the offseason. It didn’t really start to fade until this season’s victory over Notre Dame. A strong argument can be made that the victory at Oklahoma State to close the regular season has completely removed it. OU’s been able to improve and keep figuring out ways to win despite an injury-plagued season.

OU coach Bob Stoops said the regular season was a testament to his team’s ability to stay focused on the task at hand.

“We do same things daily, monthly and on a yearly basis in how we work our program. The guys in the locker room and coaches, we never lost faith. We thought we could finish the year strong,” he said. “We had areas, whether it was inexperience or injuries, we didn’t manage them as well. But as we went on, we started to manage them in a better way. That’s going to happen from time to time.”

It doesn’t make this team different from many of the others Stoops has coached during his 15 seasons at OU. You don’t reach nine BCS bowl games during that span without being able to close the regular season playing well.

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