OU football team looks for success away from Norman
Merrill Jones, The Oklahoma Daily
Undefeated OU, ranked eighth in the country, will take its show on the road this weekend to face Cincinnati.
Coach Bob Stoops and his team recognize Cincinnati is not a team to be overlooked, based on the success they’ve had over the past few years.
“Obviously they have skilled, really good players,” Stoops said. “They’ve really built a tradition there over the last few years.”
The Bearcats have been to back-to-back BCS bowls, where last season the team suffered its only loss of the season to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
After an unusual week preparing for Air Force’s triple-option attack last week, OU has spent this week getting ready for a more traditional spread offense.
As a result, this week has been less about who the Sooners are playing and more about where the competition will take place.
OU’s preparation routine will not change from past weeks just because the team is traveling, Stoops said.
“In the end, the process of preparing through the week is the formula we use, and it doesn’t change whether we’re at home or on the road,” Stoops said. “Once you get there, guys have to get there, meet the crowd and handle it.”
The Sooners struggled mightily away from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium last season, with all five of their losses coming in games away from Norman.
OU didn’t win a game on a field other than Owen Field until the Sun Bowl against Stanford, which was played in El Paso, Texas.
Senior defensive tackle Adrian Taylor said it takes a particular mental toughness to succeed on the road without a home crowd to look to for support, and emphasized the importance of a good start.
“You can’t rely on the crowd,” Taylor said. “When we’re at home, you see some of the young guys turned around, trying to get the crowd hyped. When you’re on the road, you don’t have that; you just have each other.”
Much of the heat from last season’s road struggles fell on redshirt sophomore Landry Jones, who — though he was thrust unexpectedly into the starting lineup — still had a disappointing season by some accounts.
Jones said it is important for this team to establish itself early on the road to build confidence going ahead.
“I think it is huge for us to go out and show what we’re capable of on the road,” Jones said. “Last year, we didn’t play smart and we didn’t take care of the ball.”
With the way the Sooners struggled through two of their first three games this year, traveling on the road presents an important test for OU.
OU defeated Florida State by 30 points two weeks ago, but its other two wins — against Utah State and Air Force — came by a combined 10 points.
Because the Sooners have not been as consistent at home as they were last season, it will be important for OU to get off to a quick start on its first road trip, junior wide receiver Ryan Broyles said.
“We know the crowd is like their 12th man,” Broyles said. “If we get out to a fast start and put some doubts in their heads, they won’t cheer as loud and affect the offense as much.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.