Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he wasn't surprised his team fell from the No. 1 spot in this week's Associated Press poll, despite the Sooners pushing their home-field winning streak to 38 games with a 38-28 victory over Missouri on Saturday night.
"Not really," Stoops said Monday morning during the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. "Hey, I agree with LSU, the schedule they've played so far. I'm not surprised. I thought it might be by more, even. The schedule they've had, you definitely have to pay attention to."
A convincing preseason pick at No. 1, the Sooners fell from the top spot for the first time after No. 2-ranked LSU posted a 47-21 victory at No. 16-ranked West Virginia on Saturday night. The Tigers opened this season with a 40-27 victory over No. 3 Oregon at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and won 19-6 at No. 25 Mississippi State on Sept. 15.
However, where a team ranks in the weekly AP poll has no bearing on the quest to advance to the national championship game.
The AP poll no longer is used to calculate the BCS rankings, which determine the annual showdown between No. 1 and No. 2.
The BCS now utilizes the USA Today coaches' poll, the Harris Interactive poll and six computer rankings.
OU remained No. 1 in this week's coaches' poll, where LSU and Alabama tied for second.
Head-to-head matchups eventually will help determine the top spots in the final BCS standings. LSU plays at Alabama on Nov. 5 and OU plays at No. 5 Oklahoma State on Dec. 3.
Asked if his team might use the No. 2 ranking in the AP poll as a rallying point, Stoops said, "I don't know that they will or not. It's so early in the season there isn't anybody at all focused on that. I'm not sure whether they will or not. At the end of the day, we're just focused on each game as it comes and worry about doing what we can do something about, and that's playing well."
The first BCS rankings will be announced Oct. 16. This year's national championship game is Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
Here's what Stoops said on other topics during the teleconference call:
Thought on Texas A&M officially leaving the Big 12:
"I wished it hadn't happened, but I still believe we have a really strong and powerful league when you look at the rest of the teams and the quality of football teams in the Top 25. When you look at the fact that we have been in a bunch of championship games and have won a couple of them, it's still a very strong league with a lot of great players in it and excellent coaching. There's still a great deal here, when you look at the BCS system and what we've all been able to do."
How will A&M's departure affect what OU does in the future?
"I don't know that it's going to affect us all that much. It's disappointing. I wish it hadn't happened this way, but still if that's what they need to do, they'll do it and we'll continue on. What it changes for us, in the last 12 years we've been in eight Big 12 championship games and now we don't have one, but hopefully we can still be champions. I don't know if it has to change what we've been doing at all."
How does Missouri compare this season to last season?
"I think they're very similar. I think they're very good. They lost (37-30) in three overtimes away from home at Arizona State, who is playing well also. We knew coming in, I felt that was all along that they do a really good job. They're a good ball team. They've got a lot of good players."
Surprised his team surrendered 532 total yards to Missouri?
"I wasn't so surprised in that I've got great respect for the offense Missouri has and what they've been able to do when you look at them over the last years and what they're doing this year. So let's give them credit first. The only thing I was disappointed in was the last couple of series of the game where we've got a 17-point lead and I just felt the last couple series we weren't quite as sharp as we had been through the middle part of the game where we built that lead. That's the part we're angry about. We felt we didn't play as well as we're capable of there at the end."
On his team's ability to respond when circumstances become difficult at key moments:
"It's pretty special. It's only been three games and a couple of big instances they have come right back and answered when things have gotten tight. It's a good quality. It's pleasing to be able to come out on the field and do that."
Did he notice how critical his defensive players were of themselves after Saturday's win?
"Yes, and again we give Missouri all the respect and credit in the world. I mean what I said. They're a good, good football team and they're going to go on and win a bunch of games. I think some of the defensive players felt, especially toward the end of the game, we had settled down and really started to play good throughout the game, and then in the last couple of drive I didn't feel we played like we had been playing for most of the game. Really, the overall feeling in the locker room in all aspects of it was pretty subdued. We felt we could play better than we did. The guys recognize that and really were pretty upset about it."
Is it a good thing when that criticism comes from a team leader, such as linebacker Travis Lewis?
"It's a positive that they recognize it, but the problem is they need to correct in the week ahead of the game. I didn't feel our focus and the way we practiced and the intensity of practice was what it had been in a few other weeks. I'm a little disappointed in them that they allowed it to get into the game, that we didn't make some corrections earlier and come ready to play more than we did. At the end of the day, I appreciate them recognizing it and knowing so without me even saying it after the game, but we've got to do a better job during the week."
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. Follow him on Twitter @RohdeOK.