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Once deemed by many as the toughest place to play in the nation, Owen Field has lost its luster. Sooner Magic once reigned supreme and was called upon as the seemingly impossible unfolded. The fall from grace has certainly not been received well by the fans. But, does Owen Field remain the toughest place to play in the nation?
The fact that Memorial Stadium, home to the Oklahoma Sooners, is not exactly the loudest stadium in college football does not take away that it is filled with knowledgeable fans during every home game. For years now, the Sooners have defended their home turf successfully and in the process built a reputation of being the toughest place to play in the nation.
While the 90's are something many people would like to forget. However, the turn of the century had great things in store for Oklahoma as the ship had been righted. After an undefeated season and winning a National Title in his second year, Bob Stoops had firmly entrenched himself as the head coach at Oklahoma.
Owen Field has traditionally been a tough environment for the opposing team. In total, the Sooners have strung together 38 seasons without suffering a home loss dating back to 1923. Ten of those 38 have come during the Stoops era. That, however, does not mean struggles have not come their way.
Coming off that national championship season in 2000, the Sooners were poised to make another run at the title. With a tough schedule, the Sooners came prepared to face top tier ranked teams like the Kansas St. Wildcats (finished 6-6 on the season), the Texas Longhorns, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The biggest blemish came not in losing to Nebraska but rather losing to little brother and the underachieving Oklahoma St. Cowboys. In what should have been a blowout in Norman, the Cowboys marched in and stole one from the Sooners with a final score of 16-13.
The second loss at home came in 2005 as the Sooners opened the season ranked #14 in the nation. Gary Patterson and his upset minded TCU Horned Frogs came to town for the home opener on Owen Field. Oklahoma was losing Jason White while trusting Rhett Bomar with the offense instead of Paul Thompson. In a game that set the tone for the rest of the season, TCU limited OU to 10 points while putting 17 of their own on the board. Oklahoma went on to start the season 2-3 and later followed it up with a blunder in Lubbock, Texas against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Oklahoma would bounce back after that excruciating defeat in 2005. It didn't matter who was coming to town, all bets were on the Sooners who shattered school records while setting the longest home win streak in school history at 36.
To get a quick recap, we have two losses at home since 2000 up until 2010 giving the Sooners a 67-2 record in Memorial Stadium.
Fast forward to where Memorial Stadium now stands (no pun intended). In the past two seasons, Oklahoma has lost games to an inferior (on paper) Texas Tech team and a tough Kansas St. team. These two losses have tarnished what Owen Field had been built up to be. Teams no longer have to come in fearful with slim chances at scoring a win. No, instead the confidence to compete with Oklahoma at home is the mindset as Owen Field/Memorial Stadium has lost it's luster, it's Sooner Magic.
The fall from the "toughest place to play" has not been a pleasant experience for fans. Will some begin to jump ship? After a performance like last Saturday's against Kansas St., it's all but guaranteed. A quick look at any social media outlet will turn up a few who have said "I'm almost convinced that I need to be a Cowboys fan" in reference to Oklahoma St. However, don't count on any of us here being one of those!