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Tuesday, October 21, 2003
OU still cautious despite dominant start


NORMAN, Okla. -- There weren't many answers for what struggling Colorado might do to knock off top-ranked Oklahoma this weekend.

What would it take to beat the Sooners? Theories at Tuesday's media luncheon in Norman ranged from an off-night by Oklahoma, a perfect game by Colorado or a combination of both.

Maybe even the high altitude of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

"What do you do for that?," coach Bob Stoops asked, drawing laughter from the audience. "I don't know that that's going to be an issue with us."

Even the elements might not be enough to slow down the Sooners (7-0, 3-0 Big 12), who mostly bristled at suggestions that they had a "letdown" during their 34-13 win over a ranked Missouri team on Saturday.

Oklahoma has been the nation's most dominant team this season, something that was reinforced when the Sooners were No. 1 in the initial Bowl Championship Series standings released Monday. It's the third straight year Oklahoma has opened at the top of the first BCS standings.

The Sooners have looked so good that they're 25-point favorites at Colorado on Saturday, a place where Oklahoma hasn't won since Barry Switzer's final season in 1988.

Stoops' lone visit to Boulder, Colo., with Oklahoma came in his first season, 1999. The Sooners lost 38-24.

"There's a lot of places up until 2000 that we hadn't won," said Stoops, referring to the Sooners' national championship season, his second at Oklahoma. "We recognize it's a big challenge. We have to be prepared against a team that beats us traditionally."

Another bit of recent tradition that Stoops would like to change is the Sooners' habit of dropping winnable games in the second half of the season. Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings the past two seasons when it lost to Nebraska in 2001 and Texas A&M last year.

With those experiences behind them, the Sooners say they're taking precautions to avoid a slip-up in the stretch run to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the site of this year's national title game.

"It's weird but we know we have a special group here," said safety Matt McCoy, a redshirt freshman on the 2000 national championship team. "That's why it's such a delicate thing, we want to make sure we really take care of it."

Working in Oklahoma's favor this year is an abundance of talent probably not seen since the Switzer era.

The Sooners have as many as eight players in serious contention for awards ranging from the Lombardi Award to the Heisman Trophy. Oklahoma has the nation's second-highest scoring offense, the third-ranked defense and a punt returner in Antonio Perkins who's tied Division I-A marks for touchdowns in a season and a career.

"I've never been around so much talent before," guard Davin Joseph said. "To me, it's amazing just to be a part of this team. It's a great feeling to have this much talent on one team."

No wonder Stoops doesn't worry about preparing for the altitude.

"I love playing in snow, I love playing at night, I love playing in the afternoon and outside with the sun shining bright," Stoops said. "It's all good."