Norman, Okla. With the BCS standings in the back of his mind, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday he decided an against-the-odds comeback at Missouri over the weekend wasn’t worth risking a more lopsided loss.
Stoops stood by his decision to punt with less than 2 1⁄2 minutes remaining and the Sooners down nine points. The polls were on his mind at the time.
“That’s a part of it,” Stoops said, reiterating a position he first took a day earlier after practice. “I don’t know where it will lead, but I thought, ‘The guys have played hard here. We’re in this situation. It’s not where you want to be.’
“I’ve never done it before, but I thought, ‘You know what? There’s still a bunch of games to be played. Who knows what can happen?’ Heck, LSU got in it a few years ago with two losses, right? Some people don’t see the game, only look at the score, as they vote. Right or wrong, that’s what I did.”
The Sooners were down 36-27 and faced fourth-and-10 at their own 7-yard line, with no timeouts left, making their chances at a comeback slim. Punting the ball away was essentially a sign that Oklahoma was giving up.
Missouri got the ball, ran it three times and then punted. There were only 2 seconds left when Oklahoma got the ball back and the loss was assured.
Oklahoma fell to No. 11 in all three rankings, dropping seven spots in the Harris Poll and eight in The Associated Press poll and the coaches’ poll. The Harris and coaches polls make up two-thirds of the BCS standings, in which the Sooners went from first to ninth.
Stoops said it was also a factor that Oklahoma’s previous four possessions included two three-and-outs and an interception, to go along with a touchdown that followed a 77-yard kickoff return.
“I really thought about it, but with no timeouts and the situation, I just — like I said — I thought at this point, it was over,” Stoops said.
With the way the Sooners have been playing in the fourth quarter all season, Stoops had little reason for optimism. Oklahoma (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) has been outscored 67-30 in the final period, struggling to put away victories against Utah State, Cincinnati, Air Force and Texas.