Guess who’s back on top?
Here’s a hint: No other team in the history of college football has held the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll longer.
Notre Dame? Good guess, but no.
Alabama? Nope. Keep trying.
Texas? Puh-leeezzzzze. Try thinking a little closer to home.
That’s right: The University of Oklahoma, home to the Sooners and their seven national football titles.
With all of the upset craziness from this past weekend ” including No. 1 USC, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Florida all getting knocked off ” the Sooners were poised to take over the top spot in the national polls, if only they could exorcise some past demons involving Texas Christian University.
The Horned Frogs had beaten the Sooners the last two times the rivals had met at Owen Field, including the 2005 season when TCU left town with a 17-10 victory in tow. That is one of only two home losses OU has suffered since Bob Stoops took over as head coach in 1999.
AVOIDING THE UPSET BUG
Oklahoma proved it was up to the challenge this past Saturday, not only in avoiding the upset bug, but by handling the nation’s top-rated defensive unit. Its performance was highlighted by three touchdown passes from Sam Bradford to Manuel Johnson.
The resulting 35-10 triumph virtually guaranteed Stoops’ squad would become the new No. 1 team when the polls were released the following afternoon. But while it must have felt good to climb back into the driver’s seat as the Big 12 Conference schedule approaches, the Sooners were not talking about anything except maintaining their current course.
“We talked about how anyone can beat anyone on any given Saturday, and that’s why you’ve got to come out and you’ve got to play on edge, full-tilt every game,” said Bradford, who threw for a career-best 411 yards. “Because if you don’t, someone’s liable to come in and beat you.”
Bradford went on to dismiss any questions about OU taking over the No. 1 spot, instead opting to focus on the things they need to do to improve as a team.
In fact, that was pretty much the company line when anything was asked about the rankings and polls.
“You’re not even paying attention to the No. 1 ranking. We don’t really care,” explained defensive lineman Gerald McCoy, on the possibility of OU moving into the No. 1 spot. “We appreciate it if it happens, but we’re just going to keep preparing as if we’re not ranked at all. We’re just going to keep playing and keep playing our game, and not change anything up.”
For the record, the Sooners are currently ranked No. 1 for the 96th time since the AP poll began back in 1936, breaking a tie with Notre Dame for the most appearances at the top. It marks the first time OU has been atop the poll since the end of the 2003 season.
ALWAYS-DIFFICULT BIG 12 SCHEDULE
And even though nobody in the OU camp is talking about it, the Sooners are undoubtedly right where they want to be heading into an always-difficult Big 12 schedule.
Meanwhile, just up the road in Stillwater, Oklahoma State has fashioned a nice little 4-0 start, which has moved it into the polls for the first time since 2004. The Cowboys, who rolled to a 55-24 win over Troy State on Saturday, chime in at No. 21 in the latest voting.
Cowboy fans have to be excited about the way coach Mike Gundy has his team playing in the early going this season. OSU’s offense has been rolling up big numbers and there are some signs the defense is making progress.
The Pokes will host Texas A&M this weekend before traveling to Columbia, Mo., for an Oct. 11 showdown with the fourth-ranked Missouri Tigers.
In all, the Big 12 has six teams ranked among the AP’s top 25, including Texas at No. 5, Texas Tech at No. 7, Kansas at 16 and OSU at 21.
It’s going to be fun to see how it all unfolds. “Jay C. Upchurch