AMES, Iowa — Bob Stoops has been grousing about late-night kickoff times for his Sooners. Well, Saturday, he should be pleased.
OU plays at 11 a.m. at Jack Trice Stadium, and barring flight delays, 17 overtimes or an Iowa State upset, the Sooners can be back home before sundown, adorned with orange pom-poms.
That's right. OU must turn cheerleader in this month of November. Cheerleader and scoreboard watcher. Lighting a candle or two wouldn't hurt, either, as the Sooners try to coax victory out of whoever is playing Kansas State.
With Big Bowl hopes gone, the Sooners now chase a Big 12 Championship, which can only come if Bill Snyder's Purple People Eaters lose twice. Saturday night against OSU would be a good place to start.
“Maybe someone will help us,” said OU center Gabe Ikard.
The unbeaten, second-ranked Wildcats have run roughshod over the Big 12 since springing a 24-19 upset on the Sooners in September. K-State throttled Kansas by 40, West Virginia by 41 and Texas Tech by 31.
The only squadron to stand toe-to-toe with K-State were these Cyclones, here at Jack Trice. KSU survived 27-21 on Oct. 13.
“Obviously, led by Collin Klein, they're really a fundamentally sound and physical football team,” Ikard said. “They're playing the same way every Saturday. Their consistency's impressive.”
But the Sooners can hope against hope, because similar fortune has come their way before. In 2006, Texas whacked OU, then took a 6-0 record into the second week of November.
Then quarterback Colt McCoy was banged up, and the Longhorns suffered back-to-back upsets, at K-State and home against Texas A&M. Suddenly, the Sooners were South Division champs and went on to win the Big 12.
“It can happen,” Stoops said. “You just don't know. Whether it's injuries, judgment calls go a certain way. You just don't know what's going to happen.”
Of course, if the Sooners don't win out, they won't care what K-State does.
OU defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland said “I got so much going on with school and our team and our football, if it happens, it happens. Nothing else we can do to kind of help that. Right now just sit back and see how the cards play out.”
But McFarland said point out that while K-State is the flavor of the month, it wasn't always so.
“They're a great opponent,” he said. “I'm not going to say that no one's on the same level. They were saying the same thing about West Virginia at the beginning of the year. Every team has their ups and their downs.”
Of course, the body of evidence that K-State is a legit power is much stronger than the evidence that suggested the same about West Virginia a month ago.
And the Sooners have only four opportunities for the Wildcats to lose twice. After Saturday, KSU finishes the season with road games at TCU and Baylor, then home against Texas.
“I don't look at it as a helpless feeling,” Stoops said. “Our job is just do what we can do. Work hard, play as well as we can this week.”
And get home, flip on ABC and pray that the pistols are firing.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. 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.