NORMAN — Throughout the first 12 seasons of the Bob Stoops era, only two visiting teams walked off Oklahoma's Owen Field victorious.
Texas Tech visited Norman in 2002 and 2008 harboring Big 12 championship dreams only to have them shattered in embarrassing fashion.
These days, though, the Sooners' home stadium isn't as intimidating as it once was. Oklahoma lost three home games over the past two seasons, and it all began when Texas Tech stunned the then No. 1-ranked Sooners 41-38 on Oct. 22, 2011, ending a 39-game home winning streak.
The Red Raiders return to Norman on Saturday afternoon, this time unbeaten and ranked No. 10 in the BCS Standings.
“It's a huge challenge anytime you go to that stadium,” said first-year Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. “It's one of the storied stadiums in college football. Their fans are crazy, hostile, intense. It's a great college football atmosphere.”
Kingsbury should know. He was Texas Tech's quarterback in 2002, when the Red Raiders came to Norman in late November with Big 12 championship aspirations. The Sooners won that game 60-15, with Oklahoma's defense sacking Kingsbury six times and intercepting him twice.
Then in 2008, Texas Tech was unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the nation when Oklahoma won in a 65-21 rout that ultimately propelled the Sooners into the national championship game.
Asked what worked defensively in those games that allowed the Sooners to win so comfortably, Stoops said, “You know, just everything in that coverage, pressure, more than anything, eliminating the run game.”
The last time the Red Raiders visited Norman, though, Oklahoma fell behind 31-7 early in the third quarter. Despite a valiant comeback effort, OU lost to a Texas Tech team that didn't even finish the season bowl eligible.
Since that game, Oklahoma just hasn't seemed quite as dominant at home. The Sooners lost two 2012 home games; both were against teams that ended up being top-10 squads, but both were also winnable for Oklahoma in the fourth quarter.
Three critical turnovers cost the Sooners in a 24-19 loss to Kansas State last September, and Oklahoma was tied with Notre Dame at 13 in the fourth before the Irish scored 17 straight points to run away with a 30-13 victory.
Even this season, Oklahoma narrowly escaped home wins over West Virginia (16-7) and TCU (20-17), both of which currently have 3-4 records.
The Sooner defense will face its most difficult challenge yet this season in a Texas Tech offense that ranks sixth in the nation with 548.1 yards per game, and has run over 100 plays in two of its last three games.
In their last game, the Red Raiders won 37-27 at West Virginia, which beat Oklahoma State at home this year and typically holds a strong home-field advantage.
“Definitely a good win,” Tech senior defensive lineman Kerry Hyder said of the 2011 victory in Norman. “But if you remember, we didn't finish too high after that. We take it one week at a time, and we look forward to the challenge of going up there and getting the win.
“We know the tougher environment, that's why this past week was so crucial for us being able to get a road win like that. So we definitely got some confidence brewing and we want to go in there and get a win.”