'We’re brainwashed at OU': Why the Sooners expected to win at Baylor even down 28-3
Watching Baylor build a four-score lead against Oklahoma on Saturday night, Trent Ratterree felt like most Sooner fans.
“I was distraught,” he said.
But he was hopeful, too
Ratterree admits he’s an optimist — “Almost to a fault,” he said — and he has long believed there’s an opportunity to win as long as there’s time on the clock. But his belief was buoyed by experience.
Back in 2010, he was part of another Sooner comeback for the ages.
Even as the college football world continues to buzz about what OU did Saturday, erasing a 25-point deficit and handing Baylor its first loss, questions still remain. How did the Sooners go from being dominated to dominating such a stout opponent? What was said? What was changed?
It's still a little hard to explain how the turnaround happened.
What the Sooners did, after all, was historic. Never before in the long and storied tradition of OU football had a Sooner team come back from a 25-point deficit to win.
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Two OU teams rallied to win after facing 21-point deficits, the 1981 Sooners against Kansas State and the 1970 Sooners against Iowa State. Not to discount those comebacks — climb out of a three-touchdown hole and you’ve accomplished something significant — but in both instances, the foe was inferior.
In 1981, the Sooners were arguably Barry Switzer’s worst during his tenure in Norman. K-State was worse, though, winning just twice that season as the Wildcats wandered in the pre-Bill Snyder wilderness.
But the Sooners messed around and let the Wildcats build a 21-point lead. Once OU decided to get serious, K-State was done for.
The same could be said of the Iowa State game in 1970.
Those Cyclones were a bit better than the Wildcats were in 1981, but still, Iowa State didn’t have a winning record that year. OU, a year away from finishing second in the final national polls, had Jack Mildren, Joe Wylie, Greg Pruitt and Leon Crosswhite.
The Sooners didn’t play well to start, and the Cyclones built a lead. Once OU got its act together, Iowa State couldn’t hold it off.
What happened over the weekend in Waco was different. The Sooners were playing a really good team, an undefeated Bears bunch that is dynamic on offense and stout on defense. Add a head coach who’s as good as they come, and Baylor was no inferior opponent.
OU had to come back against one of the best teams in the country.
So did the Sooners in the 2010 Big 12 title game.
OU faced Nebraska that day at JerryWorld, and back then, the Cornhuskers were a red menace. Even though Ndamukong Suh had gone to the NFL, the Husker defense was anchored by Jared Crick, Prince Amukamara and Lavonte David. The Sooners knew they had to come out firing.
Instead, they trailed 17-0 less than three minutes into the second quarter.
“Nebraska, early in the game,” Ratterree, then a junior tight end, remembered, “it felt like they were all over us.”
Ryan Broyles, then a junior receiver, said, “We were a little shocked.”
Sooner coach Bob Stoops had a simple message for his team.
“Just keep playin’ ball,” he said.
But that’s not always easy to do, especially when you dig a hole against a quality opponent. Remember when OU fell way behind Southern Cal in the 2004 BCS national championship game? The Sooners never recovered.
They did Saturday, though, just like they did in the 2010 Big 12 title game.
Players who were on the field nine years ago say it came down to belief.
“No one was really down,” Broyles remembered. “We’re brainwashed at OU. We expected to win just like these guys did the other day.”
Broyles believes that’s the thread connecting what the Sooners did in the Big 12 title game nine years ago and along the banks of the Brazos River on Saturday night. The players knew they needed to play better, but they also realized that if they stayed in the fight and did their jobs, they could turn things around.
It happened against Nebraska. Only a minute after the Huskers stretched their lead to three scores. Landry Jones connected with Kenny Stills for a 49-yard touchdown, and the Sooners fanned the flame of that spark, turning the game during the next four possessions.
Travis Lewis intercepted a Nebraska pass.
Jimmy Stevens kicked a 26-yard field goal.
Lewis recovered a Nebraska fumble.
Jones scored a 1-yard touchdown.
OU would win that conference championship game by a field goal, same as the Sooners beat the Bears on Saturday night. All of Sooner Nation is relishing this latest victory, but the players who had a hand in very similar comeback are particularly proud.
They know how big an accomplishment Saturday’s win is.
“It feels like you’re breaking down … a wall made out of brick as opposed to drywall,” Ratterree said.
Broyles said: “It was special seeing that they did have the fight. It wasn’t just the playcalling. It wasn’t just individual plays. It was the overall mentality, which is special.”
Broyles, Ratterree and Co. knew it was possible.
That doesn't make it any less special.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.
TCU at No. 10 OU
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Owen Field, Norman
TV: Fox (Cox 12)
Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7