The Sooners went to the desert in college football's opening weekend, played poorly and made us all wonder what in the tarnation was going on.
Then the Cowboys went to the desert in Week 2 and showed us what tarnation really looks like.
The Sooners didn't do much of anything in El Paso and survived UTEP 24-7. Sometimes doing nothing is not so bad.
The Cowboys went to Tucson, did all kinds of things, like commit 15 major penalties and four turnovers and let receivers run free like open-range mustangs, and were bushwhacked 59-38 by Arizona.
Remember all the angst all week over OSU-Arizona not being televised here on the Plains? Be glad you missed it.
It was one ugly performance, made even more perplexing by freshman quarterback Wes Lunt, who acquitted himself quite well. The kid just off the high school graduation stage was the least of OSU's problems.
And now we're left to wonder if OSU is headed for a major crash. Play like that all season, and the Cowboys won't win six games.
But truth is, just like I said a week ago, strange things happen on the road. That's why football coaches don't like to play outside their own ZIP code. That's why Mike Gundy would take a sheepish rout of hapless Savannah State over a trip to Cactus Land.
All kinds of nonconference results from Saturday remind us that you never know what can happen when you go on the road.
UCLA over Nebraska. Oregon State over Wisconsin. Utah State over Utah. Wake Forest over North Carolina. Change those locales and the result flips, guaranteed.
But road games are necessary in conference play and beneficial out of conference. Remember the old USGA anthem? The tough U.S. Open courses don't punish champion golfers, they identify champion golfers?
Same with college football road games. They reveal the real deal in this oft-manufactured sport.
In some ways, the Cowboys can consider getting taken to the Tucson woodshed a blessing. That's tough medicine. But OSU's many holes — discipline, pass coverage, pass catching, kick and punt returns — have been exposed.
Sure, that's tough love. The lesson cost OSU a victory, but at least the Cowboys can go into conference play knowing a little more what it will take to compete. Since most of these guys were Big 12 champs a year ago, you'd think they already knew it, but coaches love to tell us every year, every team, is different. Who knows? Maybe they're telling the truth.
That's what makes OU's trip to El Paso so invaluable. If the Sooners had enticed the Miners to come to Norman, OU probably wins 42-7 and nobody is any the wiser. But go to UTEP, and the Sooners learned some hard truths.
To the Sooners' credit, they got out of the desert unscathed. The Cowboys were not so fortunate, and their rebound from that licking will be steep. But not impossible.
In 2002, before September was halfway home, OSU had lost at Louisiana Tech and been smoked at home by UCLA. But by season's end, the Cowboys might have been the Big 12's best team.
So teams can improve. To do so, you've got to know what to fix. Thanks to trips to the desert, both the Sooners and Cowboys know. In the case of OSU, the answer is, lots.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.