Texas trying to end losing streak to rival Sooners
Friday, October 10th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
DALLAS (AP) _ Frankly, it's embarrassing.
A three-game losing streak to No. 1 Oklahoma would be hard enough for No. 11 Texas to swallow under any circumstances. Throw in the Sooners' national title, the annual second-guessing of coach Mack Brown's game planning, the 63-14 rout in 2000, last season's fourth-quarter Texas meltdown _ whew! _ and this border rivalry is downright nauseating for Texas.
Don't forget that the current crop of Longhorns seniors have never beaten Oklahoma on the field.
``Anytime you've lost a game three years in a row, it really bothers you,'' Brown said. ``It's not something we're proud of.''
Texas junior center Jason Glynn even hears about it at home. His grandmother lives in Oklahoma and razzes him about the losing streak.
``This game means a little more to everyone,'' Glynn said. ``Some of us have grandmas trash talking if we don't win.''
Texas has been particularly low key this week, carefully avoiding comments that might get posted on a Sooner bulletin board.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is as confident as ever.
Stoops said this week this year's team might be the best he's had at Oklahoma. And he sent an ominous warning when he said, ``We're probably peaking at the right moment.''
Brown pretty much agrees: ``They just have no weaknesses.''
Oklahoma (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) has swamped its last three opponents by an average score of 55-20. Quarterback Jason White has passed for 16 touchdowns and emerged as one of the top Heisman Trophy contenders.
Punt returner Antonio Perkins set an NCAA Division I-A record with three touchdowns in one game and the defense, already feared as one of the best in the nation, has poured it on as the offense kept piling on points.
``They're not unbeatable,'' said Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson. ``But you have to have the perfect game to beat them.''
Texas (4-1, 1-0) is the underdog but not without weapons of its own on offense.
The Longhorns have topped 60 points twice and the quarterback combo of Chance Mock and Vince Young worked well last week against Kansas State. Mock help Texas build an early lead and Young rallied the Longhorns to the win with an 88-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Brown says both will play against the Sooners but won't announce his starter before the game. Stoops said Young's scrambling ability makes him harder to defend than Mock.
It's unlikely Brown will let what Stoops says publicly influence his decision. Brown's reputation as a big-game coach has taken a beating during the three-game losing streak while Stoops has been elevated to one of the best in the country.
Longhorns players have also taken their share of lumps from critics who label them as soft.
``We're not soft,'' said defensive tackle Rod Wright. ``I don't understand why people call us soft. We all take it personal.''
The rivalry is historically streaky.
Oklahoma won four in a row from 1985-1988. Texas owned the series from '89-'92. The Longhorns owned a three-game winning streak from '97-'99 before the Sooners started the latest run.
While losing a rivalry game is bad enough, it wasn't as devastating when Texas was in the old Southwest Conference and Oklahoma was in the Big Eight. Both are now in the Big 12 South Division and a loss is a major blow to one team's chances of playing for the league title and possibly the national championship.
An Oklahoma win solidifies the Sooners' hold on the No. 1 ranking and kills any chance Texas has of getting back into the national title chase.
The Longhorns, who started the season ranked in the top five, circled the back-to-back games with Kansas State and Oklahoma as the key stretch of the season.
``I heard about the Texas Two-Step with K-State and Oklahoma,'' Texas receiver Roy Williams said. ``I guess you could say we're halfway there.''
The Sooners know that three straight wins won't guarantee a fourth. To stay on course for another national title, they have to win again Saturday.
``We've got to earn it again this year,'' Stoops said. ``Are we confident? Definitely. But it's the way we're playing that gives us that confidence, not anything that's happened in the past.''