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OU football: If the Sooners feel disrespected, there's a quick fix in the Peach Bowl

ATLANTA — Double-digit underdogs. Playing with the Heisman Trophy runner-up but against the Heisman Trophy winner. Burdened by a long line of failure. Playing in foreign territory. Facing an irresistible foe averaging 42 points a game.

But enough ancient history. Enough talk about the 2000 Sooners. Let’s talk Peach Bowl.

OU plays LSU on Saturday with a script eerily similar to what Bob Stoops’ Sooners faced 19 years ago. You know the rest. Oklahoma stunned Florida State 13-2 and the Sooner Renaissance had taken flight.

There will be no repeat of 13-2. That kind of score no longer exists on the college gridiron. If only 15 points are scored in the Peach Bowl, American airports will close. Too much danger of mid-air crashes with elephants.

That Orange Bowl in January 2001 was long ago. Longer than the OU head-coaching spans of Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer or Stoops. But what those Sooners did that night in Miami Gardens is a reminder that OU’s fate is not sealed, even if oddsmakers and recent history say otherwise.

Believe it or not, that 13-2 masterpiece was OU’s most recent playoff victory.

The Sooners lost national title games to LSU (2003 season), Southern Cal (2004) and Florida (2008). Lost College Football Playoff semifinals to Clemson (2015), Georgia (2017) and Alabama (2018). That’s a six-game playoff losing streak.

That’s the stuff of the Detroit Lions (nine-game playoff losing streak) or Cincinnati Bengals (eight-game playoff losing streak).

But these Sooners don’t have to be bound by history.

“We’re a lot different team than we were in the past,” Lincoln Riley says. “And each team is different. But we’re confident that when we play our best ball, great things happen regardless of who we’re playing.”

Riley has taken to playing the no-respect card. I suppose it can’t hurt. For the second straight year, OU is an historic underdog — LSU is a 13½-point favorite. The only bigger underdog in the six-year CFP history than these Sooners? OU a year ago, 14½ against Alabama. The Crimson Tide won 45-34.

But respect for the Sooners is not going to be earned with attitude. It’s got to be earned with victory.

OU was NOT disrespected going into the Clemson Orange Bowl (the Sooners were four-point favorites) or the Georgia Rose Bowl (2½-point underdogs). The Sooners led both at halftime.

“We’re a team that when you ask everybody in this room that’s been in a college football playoff, there’s a lot more hands that are up than aren’t,” Riley said.

“So we’re a team that’s been there. We know what this is like. We know what to expect. We’re certainly playing a great football team, but we think they’re playing a pretty darn good football team, too. And so (we) don’t get caught up too much in national perceptions.”

That’s not exactly guaranteeing a victory. Not exactly exuding the confidence shown by Stoops that week before Florida State.

Of course, Stoops’ instillation of belief in those 2000 Sooners occurred long before OU hit Dade County. Riley has either installed belief by now, or it’s not coming.

“We’re just coming in ready to work and ready to go out there and execute and do our job,” said linebacker Kenneth Murray. “It doesn’t matter what the outside noise is.”

Maybe the Sooners can follow the trek of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes. Twelve years removed from their previous national title. Plagued by championship-game defeats to Florida (2006) and LSU (2007). But the ’14 Buckeyes, 9½-point underdogs to Alabama and 6½-point underdogs to Oregon, beat both, won the national title and ended all talk of the Buckeyes not winning the big one.

Can these Sooners to do the same and end all talk of disrespect?

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

Related Photos
<strong>OU linebacker Kenneth Murray says “it doesn’t matter what the outside noise is.” [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</strong>

OU linebacker Kenneth Murray says “it doesn’t matter what the outside noise is.” [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d71d7a451c4674913848e50b1e7551dc.jpg" alt="Photo - OU linebacker Kenneth Murray says “it doesn’t matter what the outside noise is.” [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title=" OU linebacker Kenneth Murray says “it doesn’t matter what the outside noise is.” [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> OU linebacker Kenneth Murray says “it doesn’t matter what the outside noise is.” [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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