What They're Saying: Red November

No matter how hyperbolic, mere words can't do Red November justice. Instead, let's look to historical context.

For all its historical greatness, Oklahoma football was in an unmistakable rut throughout the '90s. Gary Gibbs, the coach early in the decade, went just 2-15-1 against archrivals Texas, Nebraska and Colorado, unsurprisingly costing him his job. Hired in 1996, coach John Blake went 3-8, 4-8 and 5-6 in his three seasons in Norman, setting the stage for a young upstart to take over the reins in Norman: 38 year old defensive coordinator Bob Stoops.

The Sooners suffered five losses in Stoops' first season, so while fans were pleased the program was recovering from its worst seasons in school history under Blake, Stoops still hadn't made Oklahoma a national power in his first year-plus as Sooner head coach. Then came October 2000.

No one knew much about Oklahoma heading into that month: while the 2000 Sooners were 4-0 at the time, the wins came at home against the four worst teams on the schedule. The smart money would have had Oklahoma following down the path of the past four years -- eight, eight, six and five-loss seasons -- and folding against the toughest portion of the schedule. But then came Red October.

In consecutive games, Oklahoma beat No. 11 Texas 63-14 in Dallas, No. 2 Kansas State 41-31 in Manhattan and No. 1 Nebraska, the Big 12's undisputed champion of the past decade, 31-14. By the time the month was over, the Sooners were the No. 1 team in the nation and en route to a national title and a five-year run atop their conference.

The parallels to Stanford's November 2009 are obvious. Like the Sooners, the Cardinal were at their absolute worst in school history mere years ago, and while the early returns under Jim Harbaugh were promising, he -- and his team -- had yet to prove itself heading into this month. Like 2000 Oklahoma, 2009 Stanford had a promising start to its season (and like the '00 Sooners, the '09 Card win with offense), but critics could rightfully point out that the Card had yet to beat anyone. Heading into this month, after all, Stanford's wins had come against UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Washington State and San Jose State, all teams that could finish the year with losing records.

And like Oklahoma announced its arrival with emphatic wins over not just any top-10 teams, but dismantlings of the name-brand teams of its league, November 2009 has seen Stanford beat down the class of its conference (and consecutive top-10 opponents to boot) in Oregon, 51-42, and, most obviously, USC, 55-21.

While Red November can't lead Stanford to a BCS national title like the '00 Sooners, with wins over Notre Dame and Cal, two more name-brand opponents, the Cardinal could find themselves in the original national title game -- the Rose Bowl. And just like the nation looked to October 2000 as the month Oklahoma re-emerged as a national power, November 2009 can be that month for Stanford, the month the country realizes the Card have re-established themselves as a nationally elite program.

Indeed, the country is beginning to realize just that: Links from around the nation


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