Sooners Eyeing Florida

The Sooners celebrated their third Big 12 Championship in a row, but it hasn't taken them long to move on to the next item on their agenda.

OU head coach Bob Stoops and the rest of the Sooners are now ready to focus on the Florida Gators.

"Yeah, I'm excited; I've been on teleconference calls all day answering questions," Stoops said during his press conference in the Red Room Sunday night following the bowl announcements.

It will be an interesting match-up in a multitude of ways when the two take the field Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 in Miami. Fl.

First off, in the history of these two storied programs, Florida and Oklahoma have never met.

Second is Stoops' history.

Stoops was defensive coordinator for the Gators for three years under head coach Steve Spurrier, including the 1996 season when they won the National Championship over rival Florida State.

"I have a lot of close associations [with Florida]," Stoops said. "The good thing about playing your brother or someone you know is that someone has to win."

Another interesting point is that the winning coach will become the first to lead his team to two Bowl Championship Series (BCS) titles.

LSU was the first team to win two BCS championships, when it completed that feat last year.

But this will be the first time an individual coach has guided his team to the title twice under the system.

"It says a lot about the parity of the game," Stoops said. "There are a lot of good teams and players. It's not easy to do. But it's been that way however long you want to go back, but especially in the last five or six years."

But there are even more storylines Stoops commented on.

The Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) have been widely regarded as the two best conferences all year.

Fittingly, the National Championship game would come down to a battle between these two conferences, right?

But Stoops downplayed the importance of the conference-vs.-conference talk.

"There are some other really good football teams out there: Penn State and USC," Stoops said. "It's hard to deny how well those guys have played, too. I have a hard time determining which league is the best league. There are still always some teams at the top of most leagues that can play with anybody."

Then comes the criticism of the Sooners' recent performance in big bowl games.

"I know everything that has been said about our program, but at the same time I know that we've had our share of success," Stoops said. "In the end, it's another opportunity, and they are never easy."

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