Oklahoma-Stanford is a no-win bowl for one man. Not for Landry Jones, who could use a victory to stake his claim to keep the Sooner quarterback job in 2010. Not for G.K. McCoy or OU seniors like Trent Williams, Chris Brown, Keenan Clayton, Brian Jackson, Adron Tennell, Matt Clapp, Ryan Reynolds and Brian Simmons. Never a small thing to win your final college game. Not for anyone in crimson who can kick the ball or catch it. After a season of maddening drops and misses, anyone who masters solid fundamentals like kicking and catching will be awarded a blue ribbon, if not canonized. But OU-Stanford absolutely is a no-win game for Bob Stoops. His bowl slump will continue no matter the Sun Bowl score. The Sooners have lost five straight BCS games, three of them national-championship affairs, with only a 2005 Holiday Bowl victory as balm for the post-season wounds. Beating Stanford won’t stop the bleeding. "Everybody knows about the bowl slump,” said Williams, an All-America left tackle. "We need to win. "But ultimately, we’re going to have to win a BCS bowl game to get that monkey off our back.” Just like that 17-14 Holiday Bowl victory over Oregon, a win in El Paso will not lessen the glare on the major-bowl drought. But a loss to Stanford most definitely would exacerbate the problem. Thus the weight of the late-season losses. Losing to BYU cost OU a chance at an unbeaten season. Losing to Miami eliminated the national championship hopes. Losing to Texas sent Big 12 title hopes down the road. But that loss at Nebraska on Nov. 7 snuffed out all BCS bowl hopes for the Sooners. Snuffed out the last chance to make 2009 a season that at least could have slain the monster that looms over Stoops. Give Stoops’ staff credit for this: Early returns show the Sooners are at least expressing excitement about the Sun Bowl. "This is a great opportunity,” said Brown, the workhorse senior tailback. "The quality of opponent is basically like a BCS opponent. We don’t take this game lightly by any means.” I promise you, Stanford is no LSU, Southern Cal, West Virginia, Florida or even Boise State, the BCS dragons that have haunted Stoops. This is not a BCS-quality opponent, just as Stanford’s not playing one, either. This was a down year for elite teams. Iowa as a BCS qualifier? Georgia Tech? So give Stoops credit for trying to incite respect for the bowl. But anything south of the BCS is irrelevant to Stoops’ bowl slump. He’s already proven he can win in December; Stoops is 2-1 in non-BCS bowl games (and 7-2 in December overall; maybe Jerry Jones should hire him). Yet Stoops is 2-5 in the BCS, after starting 2-0. Two years ago, when the BCS losing streak was at a harmless three, Sooners at the Fiesta Bowl said Stoops constantly reminded them about the ESPN ticker crawling along the bottom of television screens, screaming OU’s BCS woes. That was before West Virginia and Florida. How much more do you think it galls him that a program so successful in every other way carries around such a millstone? It’s a burden that can’t be shed in the West Texas town of El Paso. The Sun Bowl is a no-win game for Stoops, though for everyone’s state of mind I recommend he go ahead and win it anyway. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.
OU vs. Stanford→When: 1 p.m. Dec. 31 →Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas →TV: CBS (Cox 10) →Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7 COTTON BOWL
OSU vs. Ole Miss→When: 1 p.m. Jan. 2 →Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas →TV: Fox (Cox 12) →Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
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