Sooners headed for showdown with Missouri -

Sooners headed for showdown with Missouri

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By Bryce Moore By Bryce Moore

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Word made it to Oklahoma's campus that Missouri's players were talking back at the conference media days in July about looking forward to a shot at redemption against the Sooners.

The rematch of the 2007 and 2008 Big 12 championship games, both won by Oklahoma, has arrived -- and the stakes are high once again.

The third-ranked Sooners (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) and No. 18 Missouri (6-0, 2-0) each arrive at Saturday night's showdown in Columbia, Mo., with perfect records and dreams of a special season.

"I'm excited," linebacker Travis Lewis said after Oklahoma smashed Iowa State 52-0 on Saturday night. "They've got us circled, we've got them circled. I know they were talking a little trash. They had us circled before the season even started, and they wanted to play us.

"We're coming to Missouri. I hope they're ready."

After scrapping to close wins in four of their first five games, the Sooners sure looked ready in a thorough domination of the Cyclones. Oklahoma outgained Iowa State 672 yards to 183 while recording its first shutout of the season, then was rewarded with a three-spot bump in The Associated Press poll on Sunday.

Combined with losses by Ohio State and Nebraska, the Sooners are suddenly right in the thick of the national championship race.

"We're going up to play a 6-0 team at Missouri, and they're not handing anything out right now," coach Bob Stoops said. "It means absolutely nothing."

The teams have grown quite familiar with each other, playing in three memorable games in a 15-month span.

--The 11th-ranked Tigers held a fourth-quarter lead in Norman in October 2007 before Oklahoma closed strong for a 41-31 victory that knocked Mizzou from the ranks of the unbeaten.

--Three months later, the Sooners scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to beat top-ranked Missouri 38-17 in the Big 12 title game in San Antonio and prevent the Tigers from playing for the BCS championship.

--In the 2008 conference championship, Oklahoma dominated 62-21 to seal its own spot in the national title game.

This time, it will be a nationally televised game on the Tigers' home turf. Oklahoma will be playing at an opponent's home stadium for the first time this season.

"It's always a little rowdy up there," said DeMarco Murray, who broke Oklahoma's career touchdown record against Iowa State with his 58th score. "Definitely playing away at their stadium, there'll be crazy fans and things like that."

Stoops cautioned that the blowout against Iowa State shouldn't be taken as a sign the Sooners have arrived, particularly with so many newcomers playing a role. Roy Finch, who ran for 92 yards in his debut, became the 13th freshman to play for Oklahoma this season, and six redshirt freshmen have played, too.

"We're halfway through and the big half is coming," Stoops said. "In the end, we're so far from a finished product because of all the young guys we have that we've got to keep being hungry to get better and make improvement."

An off week helped the Sooners clean up some of their mistakes from the first five games and get healthier prior to their best outing of the season.

"Security is your worst enemy," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "Any time you put your guard down, you're going to get yourself exposed. That's kind of our message to our guys."

Receiver Ryan Broyles, who broke his own school record with 15 receptions against the Cyclones, said the Sooners can't be happy with where they stand or else they'll risk becoming the next highly ranked team to fall.

"We've just got to prove to ourselves and the nation that we're one of the top, marquee teams and we're going to continue to do that, definitely practice hard like we always do and continue to clean things up to be better," Broyles said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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