“That's the emphasis in the media because that's the thing that sells,” said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “But we've played a whole bunch of big games. We don't say, ‘OK, these are nonconference (games) and these are conference. We don't look at it that way.”
Under Stoops, the Sooners have defeated two No. 1's, two No. 2's and two No. 3's.
Many programs would celebrate one win over a top 10 program much less 13 in one decade.
But many of those wins were during Stoops' early years. The Sooners notched as many wins over top 10 opponents during that magical 2000 national title season as they've compiled since 2005.
Still, some analysts believe too much attention has been given to OU's national title game losses.
“I don't see this game as any referendum as Bob Stoops' capability of preparing a team for a big game,” said USA Today's Steve Wieberg. “It was a pretty big game in Norman a year ago and they seemed to come out OK.”
That's the other hot button topic.
Since the loss to USC, the Sooners are 3-8 against top 10 teams away from Norman.
Which is another reason Saturday's game in Tallahassee is an opportunity for the Sooners to make a statement.
“It's a huge game,” said linebacker Tom Wort. “We're facing a top five team at their place. We're excited to take the Sooner show on the road. Last year we were kind of young. This year we're much more mature and know what to expect.”
As Stoops often points out “big games” go beyond national title and BCS bowl games.
“Coach Stoops is a "Big game" coach because of all the conference championships he has won in one of the toughest leagues in college football,” said Fox Sports analyst Steve Physioc. “Crazy things can happen in (national) title games. But he gets there and that means plenty.”
Venables believes big games are big games regardless of whether it's Texas or Missouri, a bowl game or a nonconference opponent.
“Go right down the list, bang, bang, bang,” Venables said. “Do you choose a different path if a team is ranked 10th instead of No. 4? No. Or do you choose a different path if they're ranked 25th? I say that with respect to all the nonconference teams we've played and all the ranked teams we've played.”
Win or lose, Saturday's game won't swing the pendulum too far either direction. But it would keep the Sooners on track to compete for the national title.
“I find it interesting that virtually the same people that dubbed Bob “Big Game Bob,” are the same people now criticizing him,” said longtime TV broadcaster Ron Thulin. “I don't think he's slipped by any stretch as far as being a great coach.
“I don't think people realize how difficult it is to even get to a major bowl or have 10-, 11- or 12-win seasons. Just ask Mack Brown.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
The Sooners are 13-9 under Bob Stoops in games against top 10 opponents but are 4-8 since losing to USC in the 2004 national title game. Listed below are games OU has played against top 10 opponents in the Stoops era.
Year Opponent (ranking);result
2010 at Oklahoma St. (10);W 47-41
2009 Texas (3);L 16-13
2008 * Florida (2);L 24-14
2008 TEXAS TECH (2);W 65-21
2008 Texas (5);L 42-35
2007 *Missouri (1);W 38-17
2007 * West Virginia (9);L 48-28
2006 Texas (7);L 28-10
2006 * Boise St. (8);L 43-42 OT
2005 Texas (2);L 45-12
2005 * Oregon (6);W 17-14
2004 * USC (1);L 55-19
2004 Texas (5);W 12-0
2002 Texas (3);W 35-24
2002 IOWA ST. (9);W 49-3
2002 * Washington St. (7) W 34-14
2001 Texas (5);W 14-3
2001 at Nebraska (3);L 20-10
2000 at Kansas St. (2);W 41-31
2000 NEBRASKA (1);W 31-14
2000 * Kansas St. (8);W 27-24
2000 * Florida St. (3);W 13-2
* Big 12 title game or bowl game