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No. 2 Sooners try to avoid another TCU loss

No. 2 Sooners try to avoid another TCU loss

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By JEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Lendy Holmes remembers the sheer silence he heard in Oklahoma's locker room after his first collegiate game.

There was no hooting and hollering, no win to celebrate. Unranked TCU had just come in and beaten the fifth-ranked Sooners, stifling Heisman Trophy runner-up Adrian Peterson in a 17-10 victory. No one had beaten Oklahoma on its home field in 19 games -- and no one has done it since.

When the No. 24 Horned Frogs (4-0) visit Owen Field again on Saturday, they'll be trying to snap a 20-game home winning streak for the second-ranked Sooners (3-0) this time.

"Now that we have them again, that's all the motivation that you need," said Holmes, a freshman receiver in that 2005 game who's since become a starting safety.

For a handful of Sooners players still on the team, that TCU game will forever be etched in their memories. Like it was for Holmes, the loss was the first college game for defensive tackle Cory Bennett and linebacker Keenan Clayton. In every home game since, they've been able to celebrate in the locker room afterward.

"Just one loss a long time ago can set the foundation for what you don't want to happen for years to come. That's one thing that we've focused on is making sure that we don't make any mistakes that we've made in the past," said Bennett, a senior.

Oklahoma's current home-winning streak s the longest of coach Bob Stoops' tenure and the longest currently in the nation. Stoops won 17 straight home games before losing to Oklahoma State in 2001, then 19 in a row before the TCU loss. He's 56-2 at home in his 10th year at Oklahoma.

"I just remember the feeling that I had after the game. That's one of those things, I don't want that feeling again," Bennett said. "You don't want to lose at home. That's one thing you don't want to do, no matter where you're at."

To that end, Stoops has reminded his players -- at least those who didn't experience it firsthand -- what TCU did in its last visit to Norman.

"They need to understand that we've obviously got to perform a whole lot better to have a chance to win," Stoops said.

The upset of the Sooners is only one in a line of victories against teams from BCS-affiliated conferences for the Frogs. TCU is 11-2 in its last 13 games against such opponents, including a 31-14 win against Stanford earlier this season.

Altogether, the Mountain West is 7-3 against schools from BCS conferences this season, and another TCU upset would be the biggest boost yet for the league's reputation.

"It would definitely be a great thing for us as a senior class and as a program here at TCU to be able to pull off a BCS bowl game. In order for us to do that, we definitely want to come out and win this game, but we also have to win week after week after that," said linebacker Jason Phillips, the only Frogs player left who started the 2005 game.

"So we're not trying to say this is going to make or break our season as far as the BCS goes, but it is definitely a game we want to put a lot of concentration into to pull out a victory in."

The Frogs come in with the top-rated defense and rush defense and the second-best turnover margin in the country. They're also controlling the ball for 37 minutes per game, the most in the country.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma is the highest-scoring team in the nation, averaging 54.6 points.

"You can't go into the ball game saying we're only going to give up 28," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Like we've always done here at TCU, we're going in trying to get zero. Then you see how it falls."

When last the teams met, TCU was coming off a 5-6 season and Oklahoma was unsettled at quarterback after 2003 Heisman winner Jason White's departure. Paul Thompson started at quarterback and Rhett Bomar also played, and neither was effective.

"I know everybody wants their revenge but, then again, you just can't let what happened in the past affect you," Holmes said. "You've just got to play with what you have right now. You've got to block that out because this is a whole new game.

"We can either win it or we can lose it again. It's just a matter of how we take it and how we go out there and perform."

Earlier this week, Stoops tried to back away from the perception that Oklahoma was accusing TCU of cheating in that 2005 game. When he closed the Sooners' scrimmages this fall, he said it was because opponents in past seasons had been able to scout too effectively. That stuck with the Frogs, who are responsible for Oklahoma's last two season-opening losses -- in 1996 and 2005.

Patterson brought up the cheating allegations at his postgame news conference after the Stanford win, and said he'd be offended if Stoops thought he'd sent spies to Norman.

Only he and his players know whether that's forgotten now.

"I'd be doing my team an injustice to stand up here and say we want to play well. Our kids have played awful hard, we're 4-0 and we're ranked in the Top 25. There's only one reason we're going to Norman: play well and find a way to win the ball game," Patterson said.

"We understand it's against a very high-powered, very talented, very well-coached Oklahoma football team that has a lot of history on their side."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-09-26-08 1537MDT

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