Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

November 15, 2012

No. 13 Sooners perfect on the road so far

NORMAN, Okla. — For a team that went six years without losing at home, struggles on the road were always magnified at Oklahoma.

That’s starting to turn around.

The No. 13 Sooners (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) are perfect away from home so far this season, winning all three of their true road games and walloping Texas in the neutral-site Red River Rivalry game. There are two tests left, both at sites new to the conference: Saturday at West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) and the season finale at TCU.

“It’s always a big challenge to go in someone else’s house. It just brings your team closer, because that’s all you have on the road,” defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said. “There’s a few fans that travel with you, but it’s all about what’s in your locker room. There’s no distractions. You just have to play as one.”

The Sooners scuffled in their opener at UTEP, getting a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 24-7 victory, but otherwise it’s been relatively smooth sailing away from Owen Field, where their 39-game home winning streak was snapped last season.

They’ve never been behind in the second half in any of their away games this season — a 41-20 victory at Texas Tech, a 35-20 win at Iowa State or even that 63-21 rout of Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

“I think as much as anything, hopefully it should be irrelevant where you’re playing in regards to your mindset, in regards to how you prepare, in regards to how you walk on the field ready to play,” said Bob Stoops, who is 80-5 at home and 41-18 on the road as the head coach.

“All that matters is what you’re doing inside those lines, regardless of where it is. I think we’ve been more consistent in approaching it that way. Even at home, it’s been very similar in trying to be methodical in how we play.”

Oklahoma hasn’t gone unbeaten on the road since 2008, when they played for the national championship despite losing the Red River Rivalry game to Texas. Each of the past three seasons have included at least two losses in road games. Last year’s came in the final two road trips, at Baylor and Oklahoma State.

“I just think we don’t care. We’re going to prepare like we’re going to prepare. If you want to play us here, there or in some field in some random town, it’s whatever,” defensive end R.J. Washington said. “I like it because I like being the underdog. Since high school, my teams have always been underdogs and like to show people what we’ve got.”

Of course, the Sooners are rarely underdogs even on the road — just like this week, when they’re favored by 11 points at West Virginia. But Washington said there’s still that feeling in any opponent’s stadium.

“It’s all of us versus all of them, and that’s fine,” Washington said.

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