Top-ranked Sooners eye Mizzou after ripping Texas

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

NORMAN, Okla. -- Bob Stoops doesn't even bother with an answer anymore, since the question comes every year.

Repeatedly since Oklahoma's 65-13 rout of Texas on Saturday, the coach has been asked some variation of this: Are the Sooners in danger of a letdown after such an emotional win against arch rival Texas?

"You guys have to get a new motto," Stoops said, a little agitated. "Check our record after the game the last few years and see how we've done."

The record bears out Stoops' point.

Since Stoops arrived in Norman, Oklahoma (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) has easily managed to avoid a post-Texas hangover.

In his first year, 1999, the Sooners followed a loss to Texas with a 51-6 victory over Texas A&M. The next year, a stunning 63-14 win over Texas led to a 41-31 defeat of Kansas State on the road. In 2001, Oklahoma followed up a 14-3 win in the Cotton Bowl with a 38-10 rout of Kansas on the road.

After beating Texas 35-24 last season, Oklahoma crushed ninth-ranked Iowa State 49-3.

There should be no problem keeping the top-ranked Sooners' attention this week either.

No. 24 Missouri (5-1, 1-1) comes to Norman after beating Nebraska 41-24 last week. Not only that, but Missouri has quarterback Brad Smith, someone who gave the Sooners' defense fits like no other player last season.

Burned by Missouri's Smith

In last year's game, Smith rolled up 391 yards of offense and scored three touchdowns as Missouri nearly pulled off the upset. The Sooners needed a fake field goal to score the go-ahead touchdown in a 31-24 win.

Oklahoma's defense, ranked fourth in the nation, is eagerly awaiting a chance to make amends for last year's performance.

"I know how much it hurts the coaches when things like that happen," safety Brodney Pool said. "Last year, (Smith) did a lot of things to us. We can't let that go on again."

It'll be tough for Smith and Missouri to summon a similar performance against the Sooners.

In addition to a dominant defense, Oklahoma also boasts the country's top-scoring offense at 47.7 points a game. That includes four straight games in which the Sooners topped 50 points, something that's never been done in school history.

Stoops essentially came up with a non-answer after attempting to point out a noticeable weakness in his team.

"In meetings and on the field, we're always after more," Stoops said. "I don't know if anything is as strong as we want it to be."

For Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, Oklahoma is strong enough.

"They have no weaknesses," he said. "They have none. That was evident last week."

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