OU's focus strictly on Cowboys

Mom's turkey will have to wait; Sooner players stay on campus to maintain focus, composure for Saturday's game.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops has allowed players who live nearby to go home on Thanksgiving Day the past few years. Not this year.

The Sooners lost to Oklahoma State two days after Thanksgiving a year ago. Their hopes of playing in the Big 12 title game, and perhaps moving on to the national championship game, got wiped out in the 16-13 loss.

So with Oklahoma State on the schedule Saturday, the No. 3 Sooners will dine together on Thursday and try to keep their game week preparations as normal as possible.

``I just want to make sure that we're here and focused on the game at hand,'' Stoops said Tuesday.

Taking the holiday off would be fine, he said, if the Big 12 title game and postseason bowl ramifications weren't looming.

``I just have a feeling when they go home, there's a lot of talk about all of that and not about what's immediately right in front of them,'' he said.

``That's been the case the last three years now. We've been in the national championship picture and Big 12 championship picture. That's what families do and that's OK, talking a lot about that, as well as the media does and everyone else. I just don't know that that's what needs to be talked about with the game coming a day-and-a-half behind it.''

Oklahoma (10-1, 6-1) was a heavy favorite a year ago against Oklahoma State. By beating the Cowboys, Oklahoma would have won the Big 12 South title and headed to Dallas to play for the conference championship, where a victory would have meant a trip to the Rose Bowl to play Miami for the national title.

Stoops said that unlike some, he never looked at the Oklahoma State loss as one that cost his team a shot at the national championship.

``What it did cost us was an opportunity to play for the Big 12 championship, which is awfully special,'' he said. ``That (loss) took that away, and that stings.''

Oklahoma has already secured a berth in the conference title game, having won the South title by beating Texas Tech 60-15 last week. So the outcome this week won't affect that.

``But I don't believe the feeling from last year has left us,'' Stoops said. ``I know our guys are anxious to go play and see what we can do this year.''

A loss to the Cowboys (6-5, 4-3) would end any shot Oklahoma has at reaching the BCS title game.

The Sooners are No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, behind Miami and Ohio State. Ohio State has already clinched a spot in the championship game. Top-ranked Miami has two games remaining. Oklahoma needs to win its final two games and hope Miami stumbles.

But first things first _ Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are coming off two lopsided victories, over Kansas and Baylor, and are bowl eligible for the first time since 1997. And, they won this game last year after scaring the Sooners in 2000.

``We have to have our best week of preparation, stay as focused as we can, stay away from all the aggravation that comes along with this game, the outside attention,'' quarterback Nate Hybl said. ``Just stay focused and tune up our game plan and execute it better than we have the past few years.''

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