Hold off on both the judgment and disappointment in this year's bowl, Oklahoma.
Judging from the weight of our inbox this week, there are many upset Sooner fans out there, heavily carrying around a sense of entitlement and pride. "UConn? We're gonna crush them!"
Color us cautious, but we'd put off the victory lap until January 2.
Let's take off the Big 12 glasses and be honest, OU's track record in bowls lately hasn’t exactly been the stuff of legends.
OU was an eight point favorite against Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Sooner fans were disappointed then too, feeling as though it was a gimmie game; that they deserved more intense competition on "their level." It was supposed to be a "nothing to gain" bowl for Oklahoma. Indeed they didn't gain much, as the Broncos took them down in an overtime game for the ages.
One year later, the Sooners were back in Glendale. Back in the Fiesta Bowl, back to playing a team its fan base deemed unworthy. In fact, Oklahoma's athletic director, Joe Castiglione, even tried to engineer a match-up between OU and Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. After that idea was rejected by the BCS commissioner, it became the glorious Big 12 Sooners versus the lowly Big East Mountaineers.
Neither party managed to sell out its allotment of tickets, which in hindsight was perhaps a good thing for those fans in crimson and cream, as their 7.5 point favored Sooners was destroyed in a triumphant 48-28 win for West Virginia. Sure OU was missing some playmakers on defense, but that was a crushing defeat.
These Glendale failures and the loss to Florida in the 2008 BCS Championship Game have elevated OU's BCS bowl losing streak to five. The last Sooner BCS victory was eight years ago in the 2002/3 Rose Bowl.
The three National Championship losses can be forgiven, maybe. But the back-to-back Fiesta Bowl losses still sting. Did Oklahoma take the games seriously? Or did they back off, sit and pout in the corner like a two year old, hoping to make some sort of "statement"?
Bob Stoops is not a fan of the latter judgment. "Everybody wants to say that. Let me tell you, Boise State was undefeated that game with 26 or 27 or 28 seniors."
Better than 26 or 27 or 28 excuses.
This year UConn rolls into Glendale an even bigger underdog than Boise State or West Virgina. (Some online gambling sites are favoring OU by as many as 18 points!) Many argue that Connecticut only started playing D1 football in 2000, the season OU won the National Championship against Florida State. And the Big East this year has been far from stout.
But since joining the conference in 2004, UConn has been to four bowl games. And this year they are the best in that not-so-great conference at 8-4, and are also on a five game winning streak. Finally, let's not forget that OU slipped past Cinci 31-29, while UConn trounced the Bearcats 38-17.
Better take this one seriously, Sooners. Yes, you might stroll into Arizona and annihilate the Huskies…but given recent history, and this ongoing sense of entitlement, we wouldn't exactly bet the farm on it.
Liz Gonzales writes on the Big 12 and CFB. Email her at LizGonzalesCFN@gmail.com