Next week, Oklahoma departs for a place of bad, bad, bad vibrations. The Fiesta Bowl? More like Fiasco Bowl.
â€œLet's see â€” what good memories do I have there? Honestly, none,â€ said senior offensive tackle Eric Mensik. â€œThe hotel was nice and the food was great, but other than that ... I'd rather be going to Florida or something else.â€
University of Phoenix Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Sooners.
In 2006, OU suffered a stunning 43-42 overtime defeat to Boise State, which used every trick in the book to bring down the heavily favored Sooners.
Then in 2007, OU got walloped 48-28 by West Virginia, which turned out not to even need its head coach.
â€œThe Fiesta Bowl hasn't been good to us,â€ said Sooner senior defensive lineman Pryce Macon. â€œI still remember going home on the bus. Quiet. Silence. I don't want to have a repeat of that.â€
The Sooners have a great chance to avoid a repeat and end their five-game BCS bowl losing streak, which of course includes the two losses in the Fiesta.
Connecticut is the first non-ACC team to qualify for a BCS bowl with four losses. Two of those losses were by 14 to Temple and 26 to Louisville.
But the Sooners will have to play the game with their last two Fiesta Bowl performances floating overhead like a desert cloud.
â€œWe're not letting that frustrate us,â€ said senior safety Quinton Carter. â€œWe're not thinking about it as a team, even though it's hovering over our heads.â€
Carter and the other seniors on the team remember all too well what happened on their previous two trips to the Fiesta.
The last time the Sooners were sent there, they were riding high following a 21-point romping of top-ranked Missouri in the Big 12 Championship.
Then Reggie Smith broke a toe, Malcolm Kelly tore a quad, Lendy Holmes was left home and DeMarcus Granger was sent there.
And before they even took the field against West Virginia, a bad vibe enveloped the Sooners.
â€œIt was a little bit questionable,â€ Carter said. â€œLike â€˜What are we going to about this and what are we going to do about that?'â€
With four OU starters out, West Virginia smelled blood, even without coach Rich Rodriguez, who had bowed out of Morgantown unceremoniously before the bowl for Michigan.
The Sooners had no answer for the speed of the Mountaineers and quarterback Pat White, who ran for 150 yards and threw for 176 and two touchdowns.
â€œWe had some guys that had some grade problems, some injuries,â€ said senior safety Jonathan Nelson. â€œThat's really tough on a team when you have so much momentum at the end of a season.â€
Going into the previous Fiesta Bowl, OU had loads of momentum, as well. The Sooners were winners of eight straight, including a 21-7 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship.
But OU sleepwalked into Glendale and trailed Boise State 28-10 in the third quarter. The Sooners did orchestrate a valiant comeback, capped by Marcus Walker's interception returned 33 yards for a touchdown that put OU up 35-28 with only a minute left. But then the Broncos converted a hook-and-ladder, a halfback pass and the Statue of Liberty to not only knock off the Sooners, but later win two ESPYs.
â€œI really remember it just kept going back-and-forth and then down at the goal line they ended up doing that damn Statue of Liberty play,â€ Mensik said. â€œAnd ever since, at least one time a year, they always show that play. It's like, come on now. Still?â€
The Sooners hardly need ESPN highlights to remember what a callous venue the Fiesta has been.
â€œWe know what's happened the last two times we went out there,â€ Nelson said, â€œand hopefully this time we can change that.â€