During the past five seasons, the Sooners have lost two of their first nine games on four separate occasions. Three of those times, the Sooners went on to win every game the rest of the season.
The most recent case was last year.
After losing to Baylor in 2013, the grumblings around the team were that the season was finished – lost to a surprisingly mediocre year. Instead, Oklahoma won four straight for the program’s seventh double-digit win season in the past eight years.
Oklahoma is focused on doing it again and leaning on the experience of last year to do it.
“We made sure we met with the team and let the young guys know that the season is not over,” senior cornerback Julian Wilson said. “We were in the same position last year. We had lost two games, and people couldn’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“But really, we just have to focus on what we control – go out there and try to win out and just see where we end up.”
The last four games of the season were a complete turnaround from the final loss. Oklahoma averaged more than 40 points after the loss, including the Sugar Bowl victory against Alabama, and never allowed more than 31 points.
Prior to that stretch, Oklahoma had scored more than 40 points only one time last season.
“Coach (Bob) Stoops just kept us focused and taking it game by game,” offensive tackle Daryl Williams said. “It’s just weird. We’re in the same spot that we were in last year. We’ve lost two Big 12 games. All we can do is keep focus and control what we can. That’s beating Iowa State next week.”
It’s just that simple?
“That’s what it is,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. If we go out there and play like we’re defeated, we’re going to lose the next five games. And then what? Now, everybody will be saying we’re the worst team in OU history and the list goes on.”
Although, that’s what a few are saying already.
It’s not the case.
After losses, wide receiver Sterling Shepard doesn’t like to spend much extra time on the field. He heads straight to the locker room, frustrated by the last couple hours on the field.
He said that although the team understands that last year can provide motivation, the two years are different. Just because the Sooners rallied last year doesn’t mean they are going to rally this season.
It’s a new group of leaders, and this collection of seniors hopes to lead by example.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to throw the towel in,” senior linebacker Geneo Grissom said. “If anything I think it kind of motivated everybody. It’s gonna be a long season. We’ve got to make sure we get our heads together and grind it out.”