OU Determined to Continue Recent Road Streak

It's that time again, time to question the Sooners and whether or not they can win on the road.

Out of OU's last eight true road games, they've managed a poor 3-5 record.

In the Sooners' last 15 attempts away from Norman, they've went just 8-7.

But the Sooners have come up victorious in their last four.

First, they took care of Baylor in Waco, Texas.

Then, the Sooners traveled to Stillwater and outlasted Oklahoma State in a furious fourth quarter that featured 40 points.

That propelled OU to the Big 12 Championship, where Nebraska stood in its path between just a solid finish to the conference slate and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

OU stormed back from a 17-0 deficit to defeat the Cornhuskers 23-20 in Arlington, Texas, winning an unprecedented seventh Big 12 Title and sending them to Glendale, Ariz.

There, the Sooners capped off their season with their fourth consecutive win outside of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

All of that came after OU lost its previous four true road contests, including at Missouri and Texas A&M last year and at Nebraska and Texas Tech in 2009.

Something just seemed to click that hadn't been there on road trips in recent memory, and it was hard not to notice.

Head coach Bob Stoops said it's simple why the turnaround occurred.

"From year to year, there's different reasons why [you may struggle on the road], and last year by the end of the year we didn't," Stoops said. "You know, we played well enough to win meaning we had fewer turnovers, we were a little more assignment correct, we made more plays when we had opportunities to. So, it's not like there's a magical formula to it."

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables equated it to experience.

"I think it was a young team that matured," Venables said. "I think it was a young team. Sometimes as coaches you hate it when it happens, but sometimes it does. The dynamics aren't quite there yet. You're trying to figure out what you do well, what you don't do so well, what you need to get better at, what you need to emphasize more, all of it. There's so many things.

"I think it's been a trait of Coach Stoops' teams since we've been here that we continue to progress and improve, you know, throughout the year. And I just think we found our niche as a team and improved in areas that were an issue, you know, stopping the run, having the ability to run the ball, protect the ball and play better in the kicking game."

Along with the coaches, media and fans alike, the players noticed an obvious change for the better as well.

"Yeah, we won our last four, so I feel like guys really bought in, especially going to Oklahoma State," said slot receiver Ryan Broyles. "That was a huge game for us, you know. We fought in all four quarters of that game. Being down 17-0 vs. Nebraska in the first half, we fought back from that. So, I feel like that gave us confidence."

Fullback Trey Millard echoed those sentiments.

"Definitely, we came back in similar situations in some of those games," Millard said. "We played the way we should at Oklahoma State and got that win."

It and the other three victories away from Norman weren't just any victories, either.

They showed OU is capable of playing at the same level on anyone else's field as it is on its own.

"I mean, of course we know nothing's given after what we did last year, but trying to build on that, go forward with that [is what we're doing]," said Mike linebacker Tom Wort. "I feel like the guys are older this year. You know, a lot of us were young last year, didn't really know what to expect whereas this year we know what's coming."

Indeed, the end of last year was a huge stepping point, but as Stoops would tell you, each year is its own new beast.

And his team is completely buying into that philosophy.

"At the same time, I mean, it's a new season, a new team," said strong safety Aaron Colvin. "So, we have to come more prepared this year because we know they're going to be ready. So, I mean, winning against Oklahoma State was good last year but this is a new year."

So, playing at an elite level on the road as well as at home is something the coaching staff has certainly emphasized a lot.

They even brought in a special guest the other day to do so.

"I mean, of course we talk about it," said left guard Gabe Ikard. "Actually Dewey Selmon came the other day and talked about, you know, ‘You got to take the Sooner show on the road.' So, I mean, it's just got to be the same way as we play at home. We just got to take our game plans, we got to go execute on the road, just act like the crowd's not there, just communicate and just play our game."

And that's what No. 1 OU will try to do when it takes the field at Doak Campbell Stadium for a Top 5 clash against No. 5 Florida State Seminoles coming up in less than 24 hours.

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