NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Strange as it may sound, Tony Jefferson caught himself looking beyond Oklahoma’s showdown with Florida State to a game he was anticipating even more.
While the country was getting pumped about last Saturday’s prime-time tussle in Tallahassee, Jefferson couldn’t wait for the shot at redemption the top-ranked Sooners (2-0) had looming this week against Missouri (2-1).
Oklahoma had just debuted at the top of the BCS standings last October before getting hit with a homecoming haymaker from the Tigers in the fourth quarter. Missouri broke a tie by scoring 16 straight points, didn’t let quarterback Landry Jones complete a pass in the final 15 minutes and fans stormed the field to celebrate a 36-27 victory.
Jefferson sees it as the game that cost the Sooners a shot as the national championship.
“Going into Florida State, we wanted to play that game. But at the same time we knew next week was the game we really wanted to play,” Jefferson, a defensive back, said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot to prove to them. They got after us last year. There’s nothing we can say to defend that.”
Oklahoma tightened its grip on the No. 1 ranking with its clutch 23-13 win at then-No. 5 Florida State, scoring 10 unanswered points after the Seminoles had tied it to bring the largest crowd ever at Doak Campbell Stadium roaring to life.
It was the program’s first road win against a top five team in nonconference play since 1977, so it’d be natural to expect a letdown after such an emotional victory – if not for what’s just ahead.
“That game was over Saturday. All that hype stuff was done Sunday,” Jefferson said. “We’ve got to get over it. It’s a long season. We’ve got to take that as that was game No. 2 and we’re moving on to the next round.
“In college football, every game’s like a playoff game depending on where your goals are. With our goals, we know where we want to be, so we’ve got to move on.”
The Sooners’ goal is to win an eighth national title, but coach Bob Stoops always emphasizes that the Big 12 championship is the first step on that path. This year, for the first time, that road features nine conference games instead of eight as the 10-team league plays a full round-robin.
“Just looking at our schedule, you have to stay humble,” offensive tackle Donald Stephenson said. “Florida State is a good team, but it wasn’t a conference game and usually teams in your conference play you harder.
“So, we’re not satisfied at all. We know we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Stoops said he was pleased with the defensive performance against Florida State and singled out linebacker Tom Wort and safety Javon Harris, who had been question marks heading into their first full season as starters.
Wort had an interception and 1 1/2 sacks among his eight tackles and Harris had two interceptions, bouncing back after getting benched in the second half of the opener against Tulsa.
Stoops also liked how the Sooners were able to establish the run early and use it late to drain the clock before Jimmy Stevens’ field goal provided a 10-point lead.
All of it added up to Oklahoma’s fifth straight win outside Norman, following wins at Baylor and Oklahoma State and then in the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl at the end of last season. The Sooners have won 37 straight at home, the longest streak in the nation.
“I really believe our players have a great confidence in how they’re playing that way,” Stoops said. “Hopefully we’ll carry it into this week.”
Copyright Associated Press