NORMAN — We were talking the other day about tough places to play in college football, and Bob Stoops suggested a fool-proof plan for discovery. "Check their record,” Stoops said. And so I did. Oklahoma has the best home record in the sport. By a long shot. The Sooners are 53-2 at Owen Field since Stoops' arrival for the 1999 season. No other school has fewer than six home losses over those nine years. Sam Bradford apparently will quarterback the Sooners on Saturday against Oklahoma State. Who knows how he will respond with a brain bruise? But here's a hypothetical question that might shed light on the 102nd Bedlam football game. Which is the better team? OU with Bradford but playing this game in Stillwater, or OU without Bradford but playing at home? Most combatants and coaches and fans would pick the former. They would figure go with your best players and take your best shot. They would be wrong. The Sooners' best friend Saturday is Owen Field. OU has proven vulnerable in road games, in this year and others. Meanwhile, they are monsters at home since Stoops debuted with a 49-0 victory over Indiana State. The opponents have gotten tougher but the results have been the same except twice, OSU's epic 16-13 upset in 2001 and TCU's 17-10 stunner in 2005. Owen Field rarely is mentioned among college football's snake pits. Such status is reserved for stadiums like Virginia Tech's Lane and LSU's Tiger and Oregon's Autzen. In the Big 12, Texas A&M's Kyle Field and Nebraska's Memorial Stadium generally are rated tops in atmosphere. Maybe so. The Sooners' game-day experience seems to match most in revelry, but Owen Field's noise level doesn't equal some. No matter. OU's home record under Stoops still is much better than any other school. Why? I don't know, and neither does Stoops. "I wish I knew, just like your questions a week ago,” Stoops said, referring to queries on why the Sooners struggle on the road. "I don't know if there's any definitive answer.” OU offensive tackle Phil Loadholt suggested pride. "You're at home,” Loadholt said. "You gotta protect your home turf.” A quick timeout: OU has an advantage in that it never hosts Texas, its toughest annual rival. That helps explain why Texas has the second-best home record over the last nine years, 47-6. But that's a dilemma easily solved. Check out all the major powers and omit the results from their annual toughest test. And still OU's 53-2 is not even approached. Ohio State is 51-8 at home throwing out Michigan; Michigan is 49-7 throwing out Ohio State. Miami is 44-8 at home throwing out Florida State; Florida State is 43-8 throwing out Miami. Virginia Tech is 49-7 throwing out Miami. Auburn is 47-12 throwing out Alabama. LSU is 48-10 throwing out Arkansas. Southern Cal is 41-9 throwing out Notre Dame. Meanwhile, two other schools that play an annual series off campus, Georgia and Florida, don't compare to OU's home success. Georgia is 48-9, Florida 46-10. The Sooners are 53-2, playing Nebraska (when the Huskers were loaded) and Texas A&M (when the Aggies were solid) and Kansas State (when Bill Snyder rode high) and Alabama and Oregon and UCLA. "Whether it's familiarity, guys more focused, I don't know,” Stoops said. "It's hard to put your finger on it.” The reasons, yes. The results, no. The Stoops Sooners are college football's best home team.