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Archive for Tuesday, October 9, 2001

OU isn’t ranked No. 1, but so what?

Until proven otherwise, Sooners are the best college football team in America

October 9, 2001

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Remember the days of the Space Race when we vowed not to go to sleep under the gaze of a Communist moon?

I thought about that Sunday as I woke up once again in a Sooner Nation.

Forget what the polls say, Oklahoma is still No. 1 until somebody beats the Sooners.

They haven't lost since New Year's Eve of 1999.

They aren't just on an 18-game winning streak, they're undefeated for the millennium.

Colorado can have its RTD shorthand for "Return to Dominance." I prefer to operate under the SUPO philosophy: "Sooners, Until Proven Otherwise."

Sure, Oklahoma looked ripe for defeat after blowing a big lead to Kansas State. One can point to the one-point win and say one play could have changed the outcome.

Forget it. The Sooners had a lead and protected it, just as they did Saturday against Texas. The Sooners blew big leads and lost in Bob Stoops' first year as head coach, but they've fixed that problem.

Right now Oklahoma has a big lead on the rest of the Big 12. The momentum of two huge wins over Kansas State and Texas is the same springboard that propelled OU to the national title last season.

Then, it was Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska in consecutive games. This year, there are a couple of games squeezed in before the Nebraska contest on Oct. 27. The Sooners will have to meet Kansas and Baylor before meeting the Huskers.

The only thing that might derail Oklahoma before then is a quarterback controversy. There had already been grumbles that Jason "Apple" White should have been playing instead of starter Nate Hybl, who had won four games but hadn't yet won over the fans.

But Oklahoma won't have a quarterback controversy for two reasons. One, as long as the Sooners keep winning, there really is no controversy. Two, Stoops won't let it happen. If he tells the Oklahoma fans to lay off, they will. The man owns the state, or he will if he reworks his contract after a second national championship.

The only roadblocks to a repeat lie in the schedule. There's that little tussle in Lincoln, Neb. The problem there is the venue as much as the Huskers. Nebraska has lost just three home games in 14 seasons. Sooner Magic may not be enough to overcome that much history, but again: SUPO.

The other challenge might be when Texas A&M visits Norman on Nov. 10. The Aggies nearly pulled off a win last year in College Station. That could be another defensive struggle similar to the one in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, but OU would have to be favored.

A loss to anyone else would be a fluke, and Oklahoma is too well-coached to allow flukes to enter into the equation.

Sure, the Sooners will scare you like they did against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State last season, but that's where the SUPO philosophy comes into play again.

And in some ways the schedule helps Oklahoma. Sooner fans lamenting that the Longhorns don't have to play Nebraska or Kansas State can now thank the Big 12 computers that they don't have to face Colorado.

The Buffs' dominance of Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan makes them a legitimate threat to win the North.

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