NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The three-game stretch with Notre Dame, TCU and Texas in successive weeks loomed large for No. 11 Oklahoma at the start of the season.
Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) dispatched some of the program's demons by winning 35-21 last Saturday at then-No. 22 Notre Dame. Now the Sooners want to avoid a letdown Saturday against TCU (2-2, 0-1), which has struggled at times after entering the season being considered as a top conference contender.
This would seem to be a classic trap game - a game against a potentially potent foe, right after one of the biggest wins in recent years and just before the always-emotional showdown with archrival Texas. But Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says it won't be hard for the Sooners to focus on TCU.
"We don't play four games," Stoops said Monday, during his weekly news conference. "We didn't set the whole season up and work all year round to beat Notre Dame. It's part of the cycle. We've got another game this week, an important one. They're all Big 12 games coming. No one around here is ever satisfied with beating one team. That's not how it works. Maybe some other places, but not here. We've got to win this week and then the following week and the following week. Next game up."
Even though Stoops has tried to downplay the significance of the win at Notre Dame, it was only the second time in 11 opportunities that Oklahoma has beaten the Fighting Irish and the first time since 1956. The win provided evidence that Oklahoma might well be the team to beat in the Big 12 race, especially with TCU and Oklahoma State each having already lost a conference game.
In fact, considering the early season issues of both TCU and Texas, the argument could be made that Oklahoma's toughest stretch could be back-to-back games at home against No. 20 Texas Tech on Oct. 26 and at No. 17 Baylor on Nov. 7.
Oklahoma's players aren't ready to dismiss TCU - which dealt Stoops one of the more embarrassing losses of his 15-year tenure, a 17-10 win in Norman in the 2005 season opener - as a legitimate Big 12 contender. Linebacker Corey Nelson - who returned an interception for an early touchdown against Notre Dame - called the matchup against the Horned Frogs "the biggest game of the season so far."