BOULDER, Colo. — Bob Stoops said altitude shouldn't matter to football teams visiting the Rockies, be it Folsom Field or Mile High Stadium. Maybe it's time to rethink that. In the second half Saturday, the Sooners were more than outplayed and outcoached, as Stoops said. They were outconditioned. Second-half total yards: Colorado 219, OU 56. Second-half first downs: CU 12, OU 3. Second-half rushing yards: CU 114, OU 45. The Sooners were gassed in the second half, and anyone who has hiked in the Rockies shouldn't be surprised. Which means Stoops might should implement OU fan Craig Blankenship's plan. Blankenship offered advice for the Sooners the next time they play in altitude. And he's not a sore loser; he trotted this out before the game. Blankenship's theory: Fly to Colorado on Thursday and take the team to Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, north of Boulder. Have the Sooners hike for an hour or so around Bear Lake, elevation 9,500 feet. The next day, in lower elevation closer to Boulder, the Sooners would become more acclimated to the thinner air. By Saturday, the Sooners might be close to normal on oxygen flow. "Stoops made the comment that his team would not be affected because they would only be in Boulder 24 hours,” Blankenship. "That is like saying I would not be affected trying to perform underwater, or holding my breath for that matter, because I would not be doing it that long.” Blankenship flew to Denver on Wednesday and spent two days climbing near Estes Park, then planned to return to Boulder for the game. Blankenship says he climbs at a "fairly high” level and trains hard, and that it takes about three days for him to acclimate from hiking in the Wichita Mountains near Lawton to the altitude of Rocky Mountain National Park. "If you cannot get enough oxygen in your blood, you cannot perform as well as those who can, if they are equally conditioned,” Blankenship said.. "When people breathe hard it is because their body is trying to force more oxygen into their bloodstream. So those who don't have to breathe as hard can perform at a higher level.” Playing in Boulder is tough enough. The Buffs often have a good team and a tough atmosphere. No reason to play short of air.
Colorado vacationColorado ruined more than OU's national title hopes. The Buffs also ruined many a Sooner vacation. "We planned this three years ago, that's what's bad,” OU fan Hans Cyr of Tulsa said of his weekend in the Rockies. Said OU fan John Lauer of Dallas, "I thought we were coming up here for a fun weekend and watch a big win. I kept waiting to see us turn it on, and I just never saw it.” None of the estimated 6,000 OU fans saw it. The lethargic Sooners, even when taking command on the scoreboard, never took command on the field. "I'm not too happy,” said OU fan Randy Swank of Mountain Top, Pa. The Sooners led 24-7 after three quarters, and "I thought, here we go, like all the other games.” Like most fans, Cyr never saw this coming. "You hear the fans last night, ‘You're gonna spank us by 60 points.'” Didn't happen, and the only solace for Sooner fans was watching Kansas State take apart Texas 41-21, setting up a Cotton Bowl showdown next Saturday to eliminate a team not from national championship, but Big 12, contention.
Fan friendlyFolsom Field hasn't always been a hospitable place for the Sooners, even in victory. Colorado fans can get quite rowdy, even after Folsom went dry, stopping beer sales in 1996. OU fans in the past have reported being barraged by snowballs, wet toilet-paper rolls and condensed marshmallows, not to mention sordid language. "The (CU) fans are a little crazy, so I figured the Sooners needed our support,” said OU fan Anita Holloway of Dallas, who bought a plane ticket at 4 p.m. Friday to fly to the game. But Saturday, Oklahomans reported a more cordial reception. "The people we saw were pretty courteous,” said Joe Paul Klabzuba of Edmond, who stayed Friday night in downtown Boulder and attended a CU pep rally. "A lot of (Folsom) ushers welcomed OU fans.”
Sights & sounds• They don't make Ralphies like they used to. Colorado's buffalo mascot charging onto the field is one of college football's great traditions. But this Ralphie galloped at a leisurely pace. Her blue-jeaned handlers loped alongside. I've seen Ralphies in the past that made the lads look like George Jetson caught on that crazy treadmill. • OU at Colorado is maybe the Big 12's best uniform matchup. The Sooner whites are their best look, anyway, and when contrasted with Colorado's black and glittering gold, on a gorgeous green field, well, college football wardrobes don't get much better. • Folsom Field is loud. The Colorado crowd was disappointing; announced at 50,031, some 3,000 shy of capacity. Still, old Folsom can roar with all but the best of stadiums and did Saturday. OU quarterback Sam Bradford had trouble calling signals at key points throughout the game.