LUBBOCK, Texas — Two weeks ago, quarterback Landry Jones stood at the podium, took responsibility for Oklahoma's home loss to Kansas State and insisted all of the Sooners' goals — including the national championship — were still within reach.
“Typically, every year there's a one-loss team in the championship game,” Jones said. “It's still out in front of us.”
After the myriad struggles through Oklahoma's first three games, Jones sounded like a team leader trying to exude confidence, but also naively clinging to hope where there seemed to be little.
What a difference one Saturday can make in college football.
Jones played what was clearly his best game since losing receiver Ryan Broyles; the Sooner defense applied pressure and earned take-aways; and OU routed previously unbeaten Texas Tech 41-20 in its own house.
Several other unbeatens went down this weekend, which left OU in decent shape in the two human polls that are part of the BCS standings' formula.
OU vaulted four spots to No. 10 in the coaches' poll, and came in ranked 13th in the initial Harris Interactive top 25 rankings, which were released Sunday — one week before the BCS reveals its first standings.
All of a sudden, Oklahoma enters next Saturday's game against archrival Texas with a legitimate shot to play its way back into the national-championship conversation. If Oklahoma prevails in the Cotton Bowl, it would surely be in the BCS's initial top 10.
Games at Iowa State, West Virginia and TCU — and home clashes with Notre Dame, Baylor and Oklahoma State — make up one of the nation's toughest schedules. If OU wins them all, that strength of schedule would be viewed favorably by both computers and human voters.
Only three of the 15 major college football teams still without a loss don't have a fellow unbeaten looming later this season.
Ohio, in the Mid-American Conference, isn't a serious national-title contender. Ohio State is still on probation and ineligible for postseason play.
That leaves Notre Dame, which visits Norman on Oct. 27.
“Our guys have had a great attitude, and I keep saying that,” coach Bob Stoops said after Saturday's win. “They worked hard, and they played hard two weeks ago (against Kansas State).
“You look at today's game. We had the big turnovers, and it made a huge difference in the game.”
With all the week-to-week fluidity in college football and Saturday's across-the-board domination — plus assistance from teams like North Carolina State, which shocked top-five Florida State — an Oklahoma title-game appearance doesn't seem like nearly the stretch it did two weeks ago.