DALLAS — Consider the Sooners revived.
Only a week after a second-half breakdown seemed to rob Oklahoma of its lofty goals for the season, the Sooners (5-1, 1-1) are one giant step closer to washing the bad taste of that 27-24 loss to Colorado out of their mouths.
“It’s still there, but we know that we’ve got a lot that we’ve got to do to erase that,” tight end Jermaine Gresham said after catching two touchdown passes in the Sooners’ 28-21 win over Texas on Saturday.
Even as it trails Texas A&M (5-1, 2-0) by a game in the Big 12 standings, the South Division title still arguably runs through Norman. Oklahoma and Texas have combined to win the past eight Big 12 South titles, and the Aggies must go to Norman in three weeks to stay in first place.
And beyond that, the Sooners are back alive in the national championship picture after losses by Southern California, Wisconsin and Florida bumped them up to No. 6 in the AP rankings and No. 5 in the other two polls in a college football season that has been turned on its head the past two weeks.
The key for Oklahoma was avoiding back-to-back losses in a Red River Rivalry game that was more like a double-elimination playoff game.
“We knew that was a must-win game,” Gresham said.
Quarterback Sam Bradford rebounded after the first shaky performance of his young career, when he threw two tipped interceptions in the second half at Colorado the previous week. The redshirt freshman seemed unfazed by the big-game atmosphere of the rivalry played at the Cotton Bowl.
“He did a great job out there, the way he presented himself,” receiver Juaquin Iglesias said. “I know my first OU-Texas game, I didn’t act nearly as he did. It was going too fast for me out there.
“He stood in the pocket for us, he made a lot of plays for us and he’s been doing what he’s been doing since he started.”
Surviving Texas wasn’t the only hurdle for Bradford and the Sooners, though. Next up is a home game against No. 11 Missouri, which obliterated then-No. 25 Nebraska 41-6 on Saturday in its Big 12 opener.
“They look like they’ve got a great team — a really, really good team,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.
The game will feature Bradford, the nation’s top-rated passer, and Missouri’s Chase Daniel, who ranks third in the nation with an average of 380 yards of total offense per game.
Venables said the key would be changing up defensive looks against Missouri’s spread, no-huddle approach and limiting the Tigers’ ability to run the ball.
“If they have success running the ball, we won’t be able to stop the pass, I promise you,” Venables said.
Coach Bob Stoops said tailback Allen Patrick, who sat out much of the second half against Texas, was not seriously injured and instead was suffering from cramps. Patrick ran 35 times for 157 yards last year in a 26-10 win against Missouri.