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OU can offset ESPN College GameDay curse by playing well

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: September 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm •  Published: September 11, 2011

Forget the Sports Illustrated jinx.

The Sooners this week must overcome the ESPN College GameDay curse.

Three times last season, the nation's No. 1-ranked team lost on the road when Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Chris Fowler and Desmond Howard were in town.

Oklahoma was one of the victims.

Alabama was the first to fall, getting routed at South Carolina.

The following week, Ohio State was ambushed at Wisconsin.

OU continued the trend when the Sooners debuted at No. 1 in the initial BCS rankings and lost 36-27 at Missouri.

“You can't look at a random jinx and say that's why we lost to Missouri,” said OU center Ben Habern. “If you look back at the preparation, we need to know that when you go into a hostile environment like that you can't let the crowd into it.

“At Missouri, the first play, they took the kickoff back (for a touchdown). The crowd got into it. College football is all about momentum swings. That was such a huge momentum swing to start the game. It was tough for us to be battling back the whole game.”

The opening kickoff set the tone.

“One area of emphasis, one of our goals is to start fast on offense,” Habern said. “We can't just do that at home. We have to do that in away games, too.”

OU rallied to tie the game 7-7 and 14-14. The Sooners even took a 21-20 lead late in the third quarter, but Missouri reeled off 16 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to seize control and fuel a raucous sellout crowd.

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