NORMAN â€” Whatever happens the rest of the season, this Oklahoma defense will go down as one of the worst statistically in the Bob Stoops era.
Despite shutting down Texas Tech on Saturday, the Sooners rank No. 60 nationally in total defense. Under Stoops, only the 2008 defense finished a season ranked lower.
But with two regular-season games to go, this defense still has the opportunity to be remembered for something very different.
As a defense that propelled the Sooners to another Big 12 Championship.
â€œIt's time to man up or shut up, that's what I say,â€ said linebacker Travis Lewis. â€œEnough with, we don't play well on the road and everything. We win out, we'll be in the Big 12 Championship.
â€œWe'll see how much this team wants it. How bad the players individually want it.â€
Reaching the national championship is an impossibility.
But every other goal the Sooners set out to achieve at the beginning of the season is within reach. Despite losing two games, OU can still win the Big 12 South, win the Big 12 Championship and play in a BCS bowl.
Getting there, however, won't be easy.
Waiting for this defense will be Baylor, Oklahoma State and potentially Nebraska â€” three offenses that average 33, 45 and 35 points per game.
â€œExplosive offenses, with great skill players all over the field,â€ said safety Quinton Carter. â€œIt's a huge challenge.â€
To meet the challenge those teams will present, OU can't afford another no-show from its defense in the fourth quarter.
Nor can the Sooners be content to play good defense four plays, then surrender a huge gain on the fifth.
â€œPeople are going to make some plays and they'll score here and there,â€ said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. â€œBut you have to make people earn it and not give up cheap scores.â€