By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – Players say it all the time. No matter which elite football program they play for, the phrase “This is why we came here” always comes up in the days leading up to a big game.
For Oklahoma, that phrase has been uttered for the usual suspects such as Texas, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. It has also been quoted for teams such as Notre Dame, Tennessee and Miami.
Now, for the second straight year, the Sooners are saying it about Ohio State. However, this time there seems to be more of an edge instead of the normal excitement that comes with it.
That edge is the result of being kicked around 45-24 last season by the Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium. Not only did it essentially knock OU out of any chances of making it back to the College Football Playoffs, but it vaulted Ohio State into the postseason.
Yet, it was something more personal from the game that quarterback Baker Mayfield remembers the most about the painful defeat.
“Everybody that was here for last year’s huge loss definitely remembers that,” Mayfield said of having to watch Ohio State sing their victory song. “And we talked about it during camp. We’ve never been here for a team to sing their fight song on our field. Quite frankly it’s just embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.”
That is the boulder size chip on the shoulder attitude the fifth ranked Sooners are walking into Columbus, Ohio this weekend with as they prepare for their rematch with No. 2 Ohio State. But this time Oklahoma will be on unfamiliar ground, in hostile territory and once again carrying the flag for the Big 12 in the matchup of top five teams.
“I don’t think we will talk much abut the game last year,” Lincoln Riley said. “I told someone this morning I don’t think it has much of an effect on it. Regardless of who won or loss, this is one of those games both teams are excited to play. It ought to be a great college football environment. Two good football teams going at it. We will certainly have to go up there and play well, which I expect us to do.”
In last year’s game, Riley was the Sooner’s offensive coordinator and watched as his potent offense of Mayfield, Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Dede Westbrook were shutdown.
This time Riley heads into the contest armed with less big name skill players and more players still looking to prove themselves on this kind of stage. They include Mark Andrews, CeeDee Lamb, Abdul Adams, Mykel Jones and Marcelias Sutton. Except for Andrews, this will be the first time any of them has seen this level of defensive talent.
But one thing Oklahoma has this year that could be the difference is the nation’s top rated offensive line. Led by Orlando Brown, the Sooners big men up front know the game is in their hands as they face what maybe the best defensive front in the country.
“We have to go out there and play with a ton of confidence,” Brown said. “I love playing against the best talent. I want to play against the best defensive end that I can. Obviously they have a lot of talent. I am really looking forward to it. I’m pretty excited.”
Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. central on ABC.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com