NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma is in uncomfortable, yet familiar territory after its shocking loss to Iowa State on Saturday.
The Sooners were in ideal position to make a run at a spot in the College Football Playoff after winning at then-No. 2 Ohio State last month. Things seemingly crumbled when Iowa State pulled out an improbable 38-31 win in Norman on Saturday that sent the Sooners from No. 3 to No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25 .
There is reason to believe the Sooners could bounce back. An upset loss to Texas two years ago dropped Oklahoma all the way from No. 10 to No. 19, and the Sooners came back to run the table and reach the CFP. Texas entered that game with a 1-4 record, yet that loss didn’t stop Oklahoma from being one of the last four teams standing.
“Look at the big picture,” Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “We’re still in it. We have 2015 to show for that. For us, it’s not even about that right now. We’ve got to take care of business and win the Big 12.”
The Sooners have Texas next. The Longhorns are tied with TCU for the conference lead, and though the Longhorns are unranked, history shows that the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry doesn’t always go according to script.
“I feel like this will be the most important game of the year as far as how we respond to it,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “We’ll look back at the end of the year, regardless of what we do, we’ll be able to look back and say this was the moment we turned it around.”
The other factor that helps Oklahoma’s cause is that an honest look at Iowa State’s season shows that the Cyclones are a solid team. Their only two losses are by three points in overtime to Iowa and 10 points to Texas. The Cyclones received votes for this week’s Top 25.
That doesn’t mean the loss hurts any less.
“We’re much better than we showed today,” Mayfield said after Saturday’s loss. “That’s why watching this film is going to be hard. It’s going to be good for us in the long run, but you don’t get these chances back. It will settle in for this team and you’ll realize that you don’t get any moment back.”
The Sooners also have opportunities because of their schedule. Texas Tech has crept into the poll at No. 24, and the Sooners also have big games against No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 6 TCU. West Virginia also is receiving votes. If the Sooners play well enough, there’s also a new opportunity this season — a Big 12 championship game.
For now, the Sooners are focused on short-term goals.
“It’s about us,” Mayfield said. “It wouldn’t matter who we’re playing. It’s about getting back to work and fixing and making new corrections, just handling ourselves and not taking more for granted.”