COMMENTARY: All is Not Lost

The Sooners have proven once this year they can bounce back from a stunning defeat. Can they do it again this weekend? They'll have to, otherwise Oklahoma will be pulling a "2006 Texas" by losing its last two games and allowing a rival to back its way into the Big 12 championship. The Sooners will show this weekend what they're really made of.

A 9-1 team has national title aspirations, but sees those put to rest with a stunning defeat on the road.

Still in line for a division title and a spot in its conference championship, that team needs only to defeat an in-state rival at home to secure those fortunes.

Unable to recover, the team loses to the despised rivals, allowing for yet another rival – one it beat earlier in the year – to take the back door into the conference championship.

That very well could be the storyline for the 2007 Oklahoma Sooners.

If so, it would be a case of history repeating itself for that's exactly what happened to Texas last year.

The Longhorns were sitting pretty atop the Big 12 South standings and their only blemish on the season was a Week 2 loss to then No. 1 Ohio State.

Texas was a lock to win the South and, most likely, the conference crown and had an outside chance of making it to the BCS title game for an Ohio State rematch.

Kansas State put an end to the national dream on Nov. 11 when it shocked the Longhorns 45-42 in Manhattan.

Thirteen days later, the Longhorns lost 12-7 at home to Texas A&M.

That opened the door for Oklahoma to win the Big 12 South title. The Sooners, as we all remember, went on to beat Nebraska for the conference crown.

Fast forward a year and the Sooners are facing a similar situation.

Their national title aspirations were shot down in Lubbock with their 34-27 loss Saturday night.

But all is not lost.

With a home win over Oklahoma State this week, the Sooners will secure their spot in the conference championship.

A loss? It opens up a host of scenarios, one of which includes allowing Texas to take that same back door to San Antonio.

It's not a pleasant thought.

So how do the Sooners come back from such a crushing defeat?

Well, all they have to do is ask themselves, because they've done it once already this year.

After four easy wins to start the season, Oklahoma opened up Big 12 play with a 27-24 loss at Colorado. That September weekend was the beginning of a flood of stunning upsets across the college football nation this season, but at the time it was assumed OU's chances of winning a national championship were done.

But they bounced back, the very next week in fact, to beat Texas in the Red River Rivalry. A week later, the Sooners handed Missouri its only loss of the season.

So it can be done.

The question now is, Can it be done again?

One thing Oklahoma didn't have to deal with in the Colorado loss was a rash of injuries.

Against Tech, the Sooners lost quarterback Sam Bradford to a concussion, WR Adron Tennell to a torn ACL, RB DeMarco Murray to a dislocated kneecap and DE Alan Davis to a concussion.

Bradford's injury hurt the Sooners the most. With Joey Halzle calling signals, it took the Sooner offense two quarters to get going.

He proved capable in the second half, but you can't replace the nation's leading passer.

Bob Stoops said on Monday that Bradford's status for Saturday is still uncertain. Evaluations throughout the week will determine whether he plays.

Murray won't be back this week and you can bet the Oklahoma State defensive coaches are smiling. He's the type of home run threat you've always got to account for. Yes, the Sooners are deep at the position, but Murray gives them a dimension nobody else can.

So what if it's decided Bradford can't play and he joins Murray on the sidelines?

The Sooners have plenty of other weapons and Halzle did prove he can settle down.

Still, you hate to go into a fist fight with one arm tied behind your back.

Defensively, the Sooners have given up their share of yards the last two weeks. Oklahoma State offers more balance than either Baylor or Tech and the Cowboys are a legitimate threat.

The good news: After getting burned for much of the first half and the early part of the third quarter, the Sooner defense bowed up for the rest of the game.

There's a lot of pride on that side of the ball and you can bet they're going to be hearing about "the world's greatest offense" all week long.

The bottom line: This week won't be about talent; it's all about mental makeup.

Being at Oklahoma is all about winning championships. Stoops and Company preach it week after week.

A championship can still be won. How bad do they really want it?

We'll find out Saturday.

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