OU winless at Texas Tech since 2003
Sooners have struggled lately in Lubbock, Texas, under coach Bob Stoops
NORMAN, Okla. -- Bob Stoops insists there's nothing spooky about playing in Lubbock, Texas.
Concerning Oklahoma, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Saturday, Stoops' scuffling Sooners will travel back to Texas Tech's Jones AT&T Stadium, otherwise known in Norman as a house of horrors. OU has lost three straight to the Red Raiders in Lubbock -- suffering defeats controversial, gut-wrenching and flat-out embarrassing.
“"I don't know what it is about that place," said senior defensive end David King, one of only nine current Sooners to ever play in Lubbock. "Maybe there's something in the water there."
As soon as you get off the plane you know you're in a different place, with the wind, the tortillas they throw at you. I got sick the night before that game because all this dust blew in my nose. The fans were getting on my nerves. You just kind of knew it was going to be a horrible game.” --Former OU fullback J.D. Runnels, on playing at Texas Tech.
Yet to avoid falling to 0-2 in the Big 12 for the first time under Stoops, OU will have to expel the curse of Lubbock, where the Sooners haven't won since 2003.
"It's kind of a mystery," said center Gabe Ikard. "We haven't won there in a long time."
In 2005, OU lost in Lubbock in the final seconds on a series of controversial calls.
Two years later, the Sooners lost quarterback Sam Bradford to a concussion injury in bizarre fashion and, ultimately, the game.
Then in 2009, OU was hammered 41-13 in Mike Leach's second-to-last game as coach of the Red Raiders.
"Everyone wants to tie years to other years, and I don't see it that way," Stoops said on Monday, downplaying the Sooners' consistent struggles in Lubbock. "There are common threads anytime you lose a game. There are turnover issues, injury issues, execution issues.
"But there's nothing spiritual or spooky about it."
Stoops, however, conceded there have been "unfortunate circumstances" surrounding OU's three most recent trips to the Texas Panhandle.
But then, on the game's final play, running back Taurean Henderson scored on a 2-yard touchdown to give the Red Raiders a 23-21 victory, even though subsequent replays appeared to show that Henderson's knee was down before he reached the end zone.
The following day, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram declared it the worst-officiated game in college football history.
"A lot of things go on there that don't at other stadiums," said former OU fullback J.D. Runnels, who was taunted by a Texas Tech fan for several minutes while attempting to conduct a postgame interview after that game. The video of it has 57,000 views on YouTube.
"As soon as you get off the plane you know you're in a different place, with the wind, the tortillas they throw at you. I got sick the night before that game because all this dust blew in my nose. The fans were getting on my nerves. You just kind of knew it was going to be a horrible game."
That was hardly the Sooners' only horrifying game in Lubbock.
In 2007, OU surged into the national championship conversation behind the nation's leading passer, redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford. But on the Sooners' first offensive snap at Texas Tech, running back Allen Patrick fumbled Bradford's handoff and Bradford suffered a concussion going for the ball. The injury knocked Bradford out of the game, and with backup quarterback Joey Halzle, OU fell behind 34-10 and eventually lost.
"Sometimes you get an injury or the ball doesn't bounce your way," Stoops said. "That's part of playing."
"We had cool uniforms," Jones recalled Monday. "We looked good. We just didn't play good."
To jump back in the Big 12 race, the Sooners will have to play much better than they did two weeks ago in a loss to Kansas State. And much better than they did last October against Texas Tech, which snapped OU's 39-game home-winning streak with a stunning 41-38 upset.
"We can't sulk over the K-State game because we're going to a place that's tough to play," Ikard said. "Very hostile fans -- they bring a lot of energy to that place.
"But we need to be able to play anywhere in the country and play the same way, execute the same way, and this week, we've got to do that in Lubbock."
A place the Sooners have seemingly been jinxed.
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