End of Texas winning streak doesn't change Stoops' approach

Monday, October 2nd 2006, 10:17 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ For the first time in five years, Oklahoma enters its Saturday showdown with Texas having lost to the Longhorns the previous year.

That makes no difference to Sooners coach Bob Stoops.

``Even when we were on our run, what'd I say every year? `It doesn't matter what happened a year ago. We've got go win it again,''' Stoops said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. ``You've got to be able to do it all over again. Each year is different, each team is different and I believe that now as well.''

The Sooners lost last year's meeting at the Cotton Bowl 45-12, ending a five-game winning streak in the series during which Oklahoma outscored Texas 189-54. That's all in the past now, as is the talk of whether the Sooners had a psychological edge on Texas or whether Stoops had some innate ability to beat Longhorns coach Mack Brown.

``You have to get yourself in a position to win it now,'' Stoops said. ``What happens next year doesn't matter, what happened last year doesn't matter.''

Even this year, Stoops doesn't expect the fact that the 13th-ranked Sooners (3-1) enter as the underdog to No. 7 Texas, the defending national champs, to provide much motivation.

``I don't prefer it either way. It doesn't matter to me,'' Stoops said. ``We've won it (as the) underdog and we've won it being favored. ... We're not sitting here like that's our mantra. It's not our deal.''

Stoops said he thinks the Sooners are better in all three phases of the game than they were entering last season's Red River Rivalry.

``It's not even close,'' he said. ``There's no question we're a much different football team coming into the game than we were a year ago. I don't even know that you can compare the two. And one of the biggest reasons, too, is Adrian Peterson's healthy. That changes everything.''

Peterson had only three carries for 10 yards last season while nursing a sprained ankle. In his absence, the Sooners had a season-low 77 yards rushing on 33 carries.

Meanwhile, Texas is without its star from last year's game, quarterback Vince Young. Now the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, Young threw for three touchdowns and ran for another last year against Oklahoma.

``There's no denying with Vince Young back there, it's just different. They run a lot of similar plays and again Colt McCoy's doing an excellent job. But you're talking about a guy who was picked second or third in the NFL draft who can make plays happen when they weren't there,'' Stoops said. ``Obviously, that's a big difference in how you attack what they do because he was back there.''

Stoops said it's not as simple as whether opponents could use a conventional defense against Young. He said at times Young's presence would mean defenses had to be more aggressive but ``there's a lot more to it.''

``There's a different dimension when he's back there,'' Stoops said. ``Does it make it any easier to stop certain other plays? Maybe not. But I also know that the style of what you do defensively can change because he's not back there.''

Some combination of Young's absence and his team's improvement has Stoops feeling good heading into the weekend.

``We expect to win and we're confident about it. But we've got to work for it and we recognize them as a great team,'' Stoops said. ``We're excited about it.''