NORMAN – If Oklahoma is to hold on to its No. 1 ranking, it will not be because of what happened Saturday night here at Memorial Stadium.
The Sooners moved to 3-0 with a 38-28 victory against Missouri, sure, but the uneven energy level throughout for OU left questions for the weeks ahead – all right, the weeks beyond Ball State.
LSU was dominant on the road, defeating ranked West Virginia. Some votes will surely go the Tigers' way in the polls, released later today. The Sooners' heart, soul and mouth, Travis Lewis, did not sound as if he'd currently vote for his own team.
“We played like the 25th-, 30th-ranked team in the country,” said Lewis, the OU senior linebacker and captain. “We're not the No. 1 right now.”
But it was a win. It was a win, right?
“We're fortunate that we won,” Lewis said. “We shouldn't have won that game.”
Oklahoma's defense was particularly suspect against Mizzou's spread offense, failing early and late in allowing the Tigers to roll up 532 total yards, including 263 rushing yards.
“I thought it was terrible,” OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “I'm embarrassed to be associated with this.”
Prior to Lewis and Venables' arrival in the postgame media scrum, coach Bob Stoops and some other players provided a more sunny synopsis of the evening – an overcast overview, at least. Stoops credited Missouri, saying it would put up points and yards on a bunch of other teams.
Even Stoops recognized something was amiss in the opening minutes. Missouri led 14-3 nine minutes in, before a lot of rears found seats at Owen Field.
“For whatever reason, yeah, there was not quite as much energy and emotion,” Stoops said. “That's disappointing. I thought we were more mature and better than that.”
The offense did have its moments, to help OU claw from the initial hole and get enough points to create distance from the Tigers. But it was as if Landry Jones and the offense had an on-off switch for which it had no power to control.
Down those 11 points with six minutes to go in the first quarter, the switch magically flipped to on.
“It was just time to answer,” said Jones, who threw for 448 yards but, with two interceptions, still felt out of rhythm and looked that way to Stoops. “We're a good offense. … We had to get it together and put some drives together.”