KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Juaquin Iglesias came to Oklahoma in 2005, the Sooners had been to three national championship games in five years, including the most recent two.
He figured such frequency was standard operating procedure in Soonerville.
He figured wrong.
OU hasn’t returned to college football’s grandest stage since. Only four Sooners — fifth-year seniors Cory Bennett, Quentin Chaney, Alan Davis and Lendy Holmes — were on the 2004 squad that was blistered by Southern Cal, and none played in that Orange Bowl.
That drought can end tonight in Arrowhead Stadium, where the Sooners play Missouri in one of the day’s two national semifinals.
Alabama and Florida play in the SEC title game for one BCS title berth. The Big 12 title game provides the other semifinal, with the Sooners surely headed to Miami with a victory and Texas headed there if its proxy, Mizzou, pulls the upset.
"We’ve never been,” said Iglesias, a senior flanker with 188 career catches. "Now it’s right there. We want to get it.”
Time was, Bob Stoops was to the BCS title game what Duke was to the Final Four. Not automatic, but close to it. Three in five years, a success rate matched only by Florida State (three straight title games, 1998-00 seasons).
But then came a mediocre team (2005) and bad luck (Oregon fiasco 2006, Sam Bradford’s concussion at Texas Tech 2007). The Sooners have learned that these chances don’t come easy.
"Everybody thought we could just show up and win,” Iglesias said of his early Sooner days.
This Sooner season shows how precarious is a title run. OU’s 45-35 loss to Texas — maybe you’ve heard of it — put the Sooners in a hole for half a season.