Oklahoma's hopes of playing in Big 12 Championship game paved on road

Sunday, October 31, 2010 | 7:01 p.m. CDT
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, left, throws under pressure from Missouri defensive lineman Jacquies Smith during the fourth quarter Oct. 23. Jones said the Sooners learned how to deal with hostile environments during the game.

NORMAN, Okla. — For going on six years now, there has been little doubt of Oklahoma's dominance at home.

Whether the Sooners are in for a great season comes down to how they play away from Norman, where they've won 35 in a row for the longest active streak in the nation.

Heading into the final stretch of this season, there's only one game left at Oklahoma's friendly confines — with trips to Texas A&M, No. 22 Baylor and No. 20 Oklahoma State ahead. The Bears, Cowboys and Sooners each have one loss in conference play with the head-to-head meetings between all three teams yet to come.

While OSU and Baylor will play in Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday, Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) will head to Texas A&M (5-3, 2-2) and try to get rid of the mistakes that popped up in a road loss at Missouri a week ago.

"Going on the road to all these Big 12 South division teams, and North, it's tough. But you could ask me that the six times a year we're on the road," said coach Bob Stoops, who is 71-2 at home and 33-15 on the road.

"It's that way every time. And probably fair to say when people come here, it's tough to play, too."

Oklahoma committed a season-high three turnovers, helping lead to three empty possessions inside the 15-yard line in the loss to Missouri. But those uncharacteristic errors disappeared again when the Sooners got home and throttled Colorado 43-10 in a turnover-free performance this week.

"We learned from Missouri and what the atmosphere is like playing in a big game on the road," said quarterback Landry Jones, who had a career-high 453 yards passing and four TDs against the Buffaloes.

"Texas A&M is a big challenge at home. They're always a great home team, so we've got to go in there and we've got to play the best football to expect to win that game."

The Sooners had committed only five turnovers through their first six games before Jones threw two interceptions and Mossis Madu lost a fumble in their first game at an opponent's stadium this season.

"I feel like the tables would have been turned last week if we didn't have the turnovers," receiver Ryan Broyles said. "If we take care of the ball, we can play with the best of them."

Surprisingly, the best in the South have been Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Cowboys have excelled while replacing a slew of starters, including quarterback Zac Robinson, in a rebuilding year and the Bears are leading the division after never having finished higher than fifth since the start of the Big 12.

The Sooners cleared their usual hurdle to the conference title with a 28-20 win against rival Texas earlier this season, but the Longhorns have since tumbled to 4-4.

"It's never been easy with them or anybody. The rest of the schedule, we always know how tough the South is," Stoops said. "You guys take it for granted in some ways. We don't. It's the only way to have a chance to win it, is to know what you're up against."

That means not taking anything for granted against Texas A&M, which has bounced back from a three-game losing streak with back-to-back wins against Kansas and Texas Tech. The Aggies lost starting running back Christine Michael to a broken right tibia, but got a school-record 449 yards passing from new starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a 45-27 win against Tech.

"It's always tough to go on the road, especially A&M. That's a tough place to play," said tight end James Hanna, who has caught a TD pass in four straight games. "You've just got to concentrate on little things, details. Not turning the ball is important. Being physical is important. We've got to run the ball. We've got to have balance.

"If we can do that, we should be fine."

Big 12 South standings

South Big 12 Pct Overall Pct
Baylor 4-1 .800 7-2 .778
Oklahoma 3-1 .750 7-1 .875
Okla St 3-1 .750 7-1 .875
Texas A&M 2-2 .500 5-3 .625
Texas 2-3 .400 4-4 .500
Texas Tech 2-4 .333 4-4 .500


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