COLUMBIA, Mo. — The burden of being No. 1 leaves the Oklahoma Sooners. That can be Oregon's trouble now.
The burden of knowing how the Sooners lost that status will be less comforting.
Missouri beat OU 36-27 Saturday night at Faurot Field, and while the Sooners can and will point to too many turnovers and kicking that would shame a 6A high school, they also know the truth.
Mizzou just popped the Sooners right between the eyes.
"They kicked our butt there, too," Bob Stoops said of some element, I think it might have been OU's lack of a pass rush, but he could have been talking about most anything.
Missouri was the better team, which will be reflected today when the new BCS rankings come out and the Sooners will be nowhere near No. 1.
For the third straight week, ESPN's GameDay cursed the top-ranked team. Alabama at South Carolina, Ohio State Wisconsin, now Oklahoma at Missouri have lost with the national spotlight shining.
The Sooners have been seeing golden Saturdays in the Missouri River valley for generations. But usually on the leaves. Not in the Faurot Field stands, which were electrified from a day of celebration and adorned with what seemed every Mizzou fan wearing gold.
And when Gahn McGaffie ran back the opening kickoff 86 yards for a Missouri touchdown, the stadium exploded.
Not the kind of start the Sooners needed to quench the atmosphere.
Not the kind of start the Sooners needed to make sure they stayed ahead of Baylor in the Big 12 South. That's right; the Bears now lead the division.
OU, meanwhile, adjusts its goals to overtaking the Bears and fighting its way to JerryWorld for the Big 12 title game against Missouri or Nebraska. Where it will have to play much better than this to reach the Fiesta Bowl.
We kept hearing all week about the Missouri defense, but it was the Mizzou offense which controlled this game.
For some reason — and I've been saying this since summer — Missouri's Blaine Gabbert was lost in the all-Big 12 quarterback discussion.
No longer. Gabbert was the best player on the field Saturday night, consistently finding open receivers in clutch situations.
Gabbert was at his best in the fourth quarter, which Mizzou entered trailing 21-20. Gabbert completed eight of nine passes for 95 yards, directing the Tigers on drives to a touchdown, field goal, touchdown.
Meanwhile, Landry Jones didn't keep up. Jones was good in the first half, not so good in the second half.
The Sooner running game didn't help. DeMarco Murray gained just 24 yards on 10 carries, though freshman Roy Finch showed he must play even more, with 59 yards on nine carries.
Jones threw for just 55 yards in the second half and misfired on all seven of his fourth-quarter throws.
This game was lost late third/early fourth quarter. The Sooner defense got a rare stop — Missouri never went three-plays-and-punt — and OU took at its 20-yard line, leading 21-20.
Finch gained a yard, then another on a swing pass, and finally Jones threw incomplete amid a heavy rush on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Gabbert took the Tigers on a five-play, 72-yard drive that never saw third down.
On OU's next play, Jones threw his second interception, both on low-risk passes, and this game was quickly slipping from the Sooners' grasp.
"We've been great all year taking care of the ball," OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said.
Indeed, the Sooners entered with only five turnovers all year. But they committed three Saturday, two inside the Missouri 20-yard line.
"You can't win on the road doing that," Wilson said.
But Missouri lost two fumbles itself and allowed Mossis Madu's 77-yard kickoff return, which gave OU momentary life with six minutes left in the game.
So that's a near wash. It was the other stuff that killed the Sooners.
Missouri controlling the ball for 211/2 of the second half's 30 minutes. The Sooners making just seven first downs after halftime. Mizzou outgaining OU 287-101 in second-half yards.
That's what beat the Sooners. That's what knocked OU from the No. 1 perch that now can be somebody else's problem.
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 AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.