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Oklahoma, Tulsa share respect

September 3, 2014

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma and Tulsa have a different relationship than many in-state rivals.

There’s no hatred or bulletin-board material when the teams meet, and both coaches say the games help football thrive in Oklahoma.

“It’s great for the state— for our people, for Tulsa, hopefully,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “You have a game that’s close, so travel expenses for both teams . it just works. I know we’re always rooting for them — I know I do — when they are playing somebody else. I want to see them do well. I think there’s a lot of respect that goes both ways with these teams.”

The fourth-ranked Sooners will travel to Tulsa on Saturday looking for their eighth straight win over the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship says his program looks forward to the matchup, even though Tulsa hasn’t beaten the Sooners since 1996.

“You don’t grow up in Oklahoma and work here as long as I have in this state and not have great admiration for what they do and what they’ve done,” he said. “It’s a very good football team. They’re certainly ranked high, but that ranking, I think, is well deserved if you watch how they play.”

Stoops said he was pulling for the Golden Hurricane in their opener against Tulane and was happy to see them come back to win 38-31 in double overtime. Dane Evans, who threw for 438 yards and four touchdowns, got Stoops’ attention.

“The big difference with Tulsa is Evans, their quarterback, really had a great game the other night and made some great throws and a lot of big plays in the passing game,” Stoops said. “He really, I thought, performed well. It was exciting to see them win in overtime like that.”

Oklahoma has a large fan base in Tulsa, and several of its players are from the city. Tulsa benefits from the exposure and the packed house at 30,000-seat Chapman Stadium.

“I’ve said over and over again how appreciative I am of the University of Oklahoma for doing the schedule they did with us,” Blankenship said. “They have given us a couple times a three game contract, where we go there twice and they come here once. And they’re not afraid to do that. I think that says a lot about them, but it also gives us that opportunity to host those name opponents at home.”

Blankenship said he’s not concerned that a large percentage of the crowd likely will be wearing Oklahoma’s crimson and cream.

“Maybe they’ll change their shirt at halftime, who knows,” he said. “You know, if we’re caught looking at the colors in stadium very long, we won’t play very well. We have a contingent. How many will actually be here, I don’t know, that’s interesting. I think there’s more in blue than there used to be.”

There is one rivalry in the game — it’s between Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander and his older brother, Tulsa defensive end Derrick Alexander. Last year, Dominique’s Sooners won 51-20.

“It’s going to be fun,” Dominique Alexander said. “Bragging rights in the house, and just for the whole family, but we’re going to come out with the victory.”


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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