Well said. But how can the Sooners be sure each teammate is committed to the cause, especially with several players transferring or considering it?
“One of those things you can't really gauge,” said guard Gabe Ikard. “But I know the guys on this team really want this game.
“We want to go into winter workouts with a positive attitude coming off a victory.”
An Insight Bowl victory does not erase the disappointments of 2011. No one really suggests otherwise.
“We know we didn't have the season we wanted; we all came here for one thing, to win championships,” said safety Tony Jefferson.
But, Jefferson said, “Coach Stoops has been saying we've been practicing well. I speak for the team; we're going to go out and prepare for this W.”
The Sooners hear the grumblings of fans. The disgust with players and coaches alike.
“That's part of coming and playing football at a program like Oklahoma,” Ikard said. “You lose a game, you're disappointing everyone in the state.”
Perhaps the Sooners can use that. Summon an us-against-the-world mentality, which sometimes can be fraudulent but in this case is legit. Not even ardent OU fans are excited about this team or this game.
“A lot of people are doubting us and say we have no heart,” said receiver Kenny Stills. “We want to prove we're the Sooners and we'll play for that name on our jerseys.”
Even if they'd rather be somewhere else.
GRASS IS GREENER
How teams that thought they belonged in the national title game have fared in their bowl game in the 2000s:
* 2000 Miami: 37-20 over Florida in Sugar Bowl
* 2003 Southern Cal: 28-14 over Michigan in Rose Bowl
* 2004 Auburn: 16-13 over Virginia Tech in Sugar Bowl
* 2008 Texas: 24-21 over Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl
* 2006 Michigan: 32-18 to Southern Cal in Rose Bowl
* 2007 Virginia Tech: 24-21 to Kansas in Orange Bowl
* 2007 Oklahoma: 48-28 to West Virginia in Fiesta Bowl
How OU has done in bowl games in which it would rather be elsewhere:
* 2001: Beat Arkansas 10-3 in Cotton Bowl
* 1994: Lost to BYU 31-6 in Copper Bowl
* 1988: Lost to Clemson 13-6 in Citrus Bowl
* 1981: Beat Houston 40-14 in Sun Bowl
* 1976: Beat Wyoming 41-7 in Fiesta Bowl