Scottsdale, Ariz. As Winston Churchill said, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones agrees. He didn’t use those exact words when referring to the last two times the Sooners rolled into the desert favored in the Fiesta Bowl only to lose, 48-28, to West Virginia in 2008 and, as every college football fan should know, 43-42 in overtime to Boise State in 2007.
“If you don’t prepare differently, history’s going to repeat itself,” is the way he put it.
Oklahoma is back and again is supposed to win big. As of Tuesday, the Sooners (11-2) were 17-point favorites against No. 25 Connecticut (8-4) in the New Year’s night matchup.
Yet if any college program should know not to take an opponent lightly, it should be Oklahoma, particularly at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
West Virginia officials were so impressed with their team’s one-sided victory over Sooners three years ago that they called a news conference the next morning at a Scottsdale resort to take the “interim” off of the title of coach Bill Stewart.
A year earlier, the Sooners were on the wrong side of a college football classic. Boise State broke BCS barrier to get a Fiesta Bowl bid and, although the Broncos were ranked 12th and unbeaten, few if anyone gave them a shot against Adrian Peterson and mighty Oklahoma. Boise State used the venerable “Statue of Liberty” play for a 2-point conversion and the victory.
“Past mistakes tell us that we need to come in here and only worry about the game,” Oklahoma safety Jonathan Nelson said, “only worry about the game plan and what we need to do to beat our opponent, not ‘Hey, I’m worried about going to the mall or this bar or whatever.’ I want to beat Connecticut and that’s the end of the story.”
Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter said the Sooners don’t base their opinion of Connecticut on what is written or said about them.
“We watch film and you form a respect for a team, you see how good they really are,” Carter said. “They won five games straight, conference champions, you can’t underestimate them.”
Connecticut finished tied with Pittsburgh and West Virginia atop the Big East. With victories over their fellow co-champions, the Huskies headed to Arizona.
The Sooners are looking to end a five-game BCS bowl losing streak.