Part of the tagline for Oklahoma is about competing for championships year after year. Conference championships – yea, that’s true. But a national championship is another story.
The Sooners haven’t competed for one since the 2008 season. The fact OU is doing so this season is a testament to head coach Bob Stoops making the necessary changes and the senior leaders stepping up in a major way and the emergence of quarterback Baker Mayfield.
For the seniors, they know this is their last shot. And the seniors want to make sure those younger guys understand this is not a given. Opportunities like what the Sooners have next week in the Capital One Orange Bowl against Clemson isn’t a birthright.
You have to earn it.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in the college playoff,” senior defensive end Charles Tapper said. “The seniors, we will never get this back. You never know, the guys next year, they don't ever know if they're going to get it back because you never know with injuries and things like that so we know we've got to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
Tapper said it started early as last week’s first two practices were the most intense he has ever seen. It can’t start with the coaches, though. He said it’s all about the players recognizing what this moment is and what it could be for the program.
“It hasn't been the coaches yelling for the intensity and all that, it's been the players bringing the energy,” Tapper said. “The coaches haven't been yelling all week in practice. There's just been that much intensity because we're just all so ready.”
The rest and rust conundrum won’t be fully answered until kickoff, but it’s easy to infer the Sooners are preparing for this showdown the right way.