Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 27, 2018 at 9:43 pm.

Oklahoma tries to focus only on winning Big 12 title

There’s plenty of potential distractions for Oklahoma this week leading up to its Big 12 Championship Game against Texas.

First, there’s the College Football Playoff debate.

Michigan’s loss to Ohio State last weekend opened up the door for the Sooners to make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. If No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 Ohio State win their conference title games — and Alabama beats Georgia for the SEC title — the Sooners and Buckeyes will be compared for the final spot in the CFP.

“That’s going to be a conversation,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said.

“It was the same thing last year. We knew we had to win this game. Most years, teams are going to have to win the conference to get into the playoff. That’s not a surprise to anybody. I want my team’s focus right there. If I want that to happen, I have to make sure mine is there as well.”

In addition to the playoff talk, the Sooners also face a unique matchup, playing their biggest rivals twice in a season for the first time in more than 100 years.

No. 14 Texas beat the Sooners 48-45 on Oct. 6 in the Cotton Bowl, a little more than 20 miles east of AT&T Stadium, the site of Saturday’s game.

Ever since, Oklahoma players have talked about the desire to play the Longhorns again. But now that it’s here, the Sooners are trying to downplay the thought that this game has any extra meaning because of who it is against.

“Honestly, I haven’t thought about Texas,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “For me, I’ve been going week-by-week, day-by-day, trying to get to this point actually. It’s another game, obviously the Big 12 Championship. If we don’t go out and execute everyone’s gonna be mad.”

But just a few weeks ago, after a game, Murray answered in the affirmative when asked if he wanted a shot at Texas again, repeating, “Yeah,” five times while getting quieter and quieter each time.

Murray wasn’t the only one to shoot down revenge talk.

“It’s just another opportunity for us as a team to go out there and achieve the goals that we want to achieve, which is winning the Big 12 championship this year,” linebacker Kenneth Murray said, “and obviously trying to win it for the fourth time in a row is really important to us.”