NORMAN — As if losing at Missouri last season weren't bad enough, Oklahoma's players were forced to attend the spontaneous postgame celebration happening all around them.
“A girl was running past me and hit me in the face with her pom-pom,” said Sooners running back Brennan Clay, then a freshman. “When they rushed the field, it was just chaos. They had all the excitement. It was their night.”
For obvious reasons, Clay and his teammates would prefer if Saturday night were theirs at Owen Field.
The top-ranked Sooners (2-0) refuse to call tonight's 7 p.m. Big 12 opener with the Tigers (2-0) payback or revenge. OU coach Bob Stoops bristled at the mentioning of those terms. Put simply, he said his team has to play better than it did a year ago.
But, at the same time, he did admit the Sooners' attentions were more immediately locked in this week because of last year's result. That was helpful since OU was involved in an emotionally and physically draining victory last weekend at then-No. 5 Florida State.
The prospect of a letdown would have been possible, maybe even likely, if not for the fact that Missouri was next on the schedule.
“There's a lot of respect there,” Stoops said. “We've got to do our work during the week to have a chance to win.”
ESPN's “GameDay” was on campus for last year's game in Columbia. OU had just earned the No.1 ranking in the BCS standings. The Sooners led the Tigers 21-20 entering the fourth quarter.
All was going well. Then, suddenly, it wasn't.
“We proceed to not coach worth a dang, not play worth a dang in the fourth quarter – when it counted the most,” OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “There's a lot to learn from last year's game.”
The defense allowed 16 points in a span of six minutes to an offense run by Blaine Gabbert, now with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. The offense sputtered, with quarterback Landry Jones going 0 for 7 in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously that's not what you want to have as a quarterback,” Jones said. “We just didn't play our best ball. They did a great job against us. They just beat us, flat-out.
“I think you just remember your losses. Missouri beat us. You remember that. You remember how important every game is. You can't overlook anybody.”
A couple of things will help the Sooners tonight. For one, there is the confidence that Jones and the offense have built in the fourth quarters since that loss.
Last week at FSU stands as a prime example. The Seminoles fought back to tie the game at 13 in the fourth quarter. The crowd was in a frenzy, hungry for an OU miscue that would potentially allow their team to lead for the first time all night.
Instead, Jones found Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills all the way down the field on what ultimately was the game-winning touchdown drive. The quick-response, crowd-deflating drive was a stark contrast to the 0-for quarter.
Additionally, there's the uncontrollable fact that the game is at Owen Field, where OU has won 37 consecutive games and 73 of 75 since Stoops arrived in 1999. Missouri has not won at Memorial Stadium since 1966.
“They won't see the same team they saw last year,” OU offensive tackle Donald Stephenson said.
If any Sooner went into this week labeling it as a revenge game, Stoops quickly offered a correction in Monday's meeting.
“Revenge only lasts those first couple of plays,” Stephenson said, remembering Stoops' words, “and then there's 60 minutes of football left to play.”