LUBBOCK, Texas – Some misguided souls claim this patch of God's brown Earth is the end of the Earth.
But how can that be when it sits on a crossroads?
The Sooners will take one of two paths around sundown Saturday. Back to Big 12 contention or into Big 12 oblivion.
Beat Texas Tech, and OU suddenly is tied with either West Virginia or Texas, only a game out of first place, and goes to Dallas next week full of confidence in the Cotton Bowl. Beat Tech, in any fashion possible, and the Sooners will have shown some resiliency missing since this bewildering season began.
But lose to Tech, and OU is two games behind either West Virginia or Texas, and probably Kansas State and TCU, too. Lose to Tech, no matter the fashion, and boils and pestilence will descend upon Soonerville. 2012 will feel like the plagues of Egypt.
You think frustration has been high til now? You think Bob Stoops' call-in show is must-see TV on the new Sooner network? Just wait until OU goes 0-2 in the Big 12.
And Stoops knows the score. In this age of all-games-are-created-equal-even-if-you're-playing-Florida A&M, Stoops admits this trip to Lubbock is big.
“Sure. You're a smart guy, I'm a decently smart guy, doesn't take a lot to figure that out,” Stoops said, mixing up his intelligence analysis but generally acing the question. “So sure, it makes your opportunities tougher.”
Speaking of crossroads, this game combines the cataclysms of 2011 and 2012. Last year, pass defense, first detected against Tech, which grilled the Sooners 41-38 in Norman. This year, passing. In a 24-19 loss to Kansas State two weeks ago, Landry Jones looked more like the redshirt freshman who got beat 41-13 in Lubbock than the redshirt freshman who was billed as a Heisman contender.
Hard to imagine a team ranked fourth nationally in the preseason could tumble this far this fast, but that's the fate that awaits OU football if it does what it usually does here on the West Texas plains.
The Sooners haven't won in Lubbock since 2003, but that must change Saturday, else you just thought Bob Stoops had troubles.
“We lost to Kansas State, and that's a game I feel like we should have won,” said safety Tony Jefferson. “Texas Tech last year, there's just so much going into this game that desires us to win this game.”
No doubt about it. Lubbock isn't the end of the Earth. But the Sooners will be able to see it from here if they lose this game.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.