<
>

Sooners could learn from the Huskers

So Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has made it clear this week he's done talking about his team's struggles on the road, where it's lost six of its past 12 games. So, too, is his team.

Earlier in the week, Stoops limited media access to just a handful of players, a pair on offense and defense. That's fair. His call.

Up North a few hundred miles, Bo Pelini doesn't have a problem talking about his team's road performance. It's excelled on the road, winning games by five touchdowns at Kansas State and Washington and handing No. 10 Oklahoma State its only loss of the season -- and by double digits.

Coincidentally, a trip to Stillwater next week is what stands between Oklahoma and a seventh Big 12 South title in nine years. Of course, that could be moot with a loss to Baylor in Waco on Saturday against a team that's never beaten the Sooners in 19 tries.

"Execute. It’s as simple as that," Pelini said. "There’s nothing magical to it. You’ve just got to play, do the things you’ve been coached to do. Do that and you're fine. It doesn’t matter if you're home or away. The same things that equate to success at home are the same things on the road. You’ve got to execute your football and do it in such a way that you give yourself an opportunity to play well."

Pelini's Huskers have an intimidating road trip ahead of them on Saturday, when Nebraska will encounter what could be perhaps the most raucous crowd of the season in the Big 12. Texas A&M's 12th Man has been challenged on the aptly named "12th Man Day" to close the season.

Oklahoma was soundly beaten at Texas A&M two weeks ago, fell apart in the fourth quarter at Missouri while playing as the nation's No. 1 team, and beat Cincinnati, now just 3-6 and at the bottom of the Big East, by just two points in Cincinnati.

But what has made Nebraska, which -- unlike Oklahoma -- has been less than sharp at home, such a force on the road?

"I think coaching is a big part of it. If you trust in your coaches, that's all where it comes from," said Nebraska senior defensive back Eric Hagg. "Coaches have to get the players to get on board with you and have a relationship, but it goes back and forth, with players and coaches mixed together."

That's no shot at Stoops. Dynamics between different sets of players are exactly that: different. And there doesn't seem to be a link between who plays best where.

"It's only us. There's no distractions on the road, and I think sometimes we maybe prepare better because we know we won't have the home crowd," Hagg said.

Hagg doesn't see any common denominators between the Sooners, who have been nothing short of dominant at home, and other teams like them who struggle on the road. He's not alone in coming up empty-handed in grasping for an explanation. Had the Sooners figured it out, their road slide from last year wouldn't have carried over to 2010.

"It could also just be kind of luck, I guess," he said of the Huskers road successes. "We practice the same during the weeks for home and away games."

Just don't look to Pelini for any hex cures.

"I don’t think it matters whether you’re playing on the road or at home. The same things you have to bring to the table are the same things that you’ve been taught to do. You’ve got to take them from the practice field to the game field," Pelini said. "It doesn’t magically change because you’re not playing at home anymore. You have to do those things no matter where you are. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to play well."