Sooners Seeking 17th Straight Win Against Baylor
Friday, November 9th 2007, 2:14 pm
By: News On 6
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) One team has everything to play for, including a Big 12 title and even an outside chance at a national championship. The other team has little more than dwindling pride and its coach's tenuous job status at stake.
Must be time for Oklahoma to play Baylor again.
In as close to a sure thing as the Big 12 has to offer, the Sooners have never lost to the Bears in 16 all-time meetings. It's one of only two series in the conference that have seen one team win every game, along with Texas holding a 7-0 record against Iowa State.
So, the No. 4 Sooners (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) had to find new reasons to get fired up to play the Bears (3-7, 0-6) on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson compared Oklahoma's final stretch to a tournament, and he reminded players that it was Baylor four years ago that even in defeat helped reveal a weakness in pass protection that ultimately helped the Sooners go from surefire national champions to a two-loss team.
``We can't overlook them. Every game is the most important game now,'' Oklahoma cornerback Reggie Smith said. ``We've got to make sure we win out. We can't lose any more games. We've got to win every single game so we can have a chance to win the South and go on to a Big 12 championship and whatever else happens.''
The Sooners catch Baylor just after the last glimmer of an improbable run at a bowl game was wiped away and the questions about coach Guy Morriss' job security started coming in. Two newspapers citing anonymous sources reported this week that Morriss would not be back in 2008.
``I, for one, am not going to roll over just because it's Oklahoma, and I don't think our kids are going to do that either,'' Morriss said. ``We took some extra time to see what we could do against this Oklahoma team. We just need to go up there and get after them.
``Who knows what's going to happen, but I think this team has some character and resolve and will go up there and play hard.''
The Bears took Oklahoma to double overtime in their last trip to Norman in 2005, but that was when the Sooners were a young squad rebuilding after back-to-back trips to the BCS title game. The same players who were young and inexperienced then are now helping make Oklahoma the nation's third-highest scoring offense (44.2 ppg).
Redshirt freshman Sam Bradford is coming off his second five-touchdown performance of the season in a 42-14 win against Texas A&M last week that was also Oklahoma's second turnover-free game this season and featured its best rushing output in conference play.
All around, a bye week seemed to get the Sooners back on track and help them kick some nasty habits.
``You can't make that determination after just one week, but it's something to where we're going to strive to get better, and hopefully we can make big improvements,'' said Sooners safety D.J. Wolfe, who leads the team with four interceptions.
``When it starts getting down to conference championship time and bowl game time, you want to be at your peak out there as a team.''
That's not good news for the Bears, who were able to keep it close into the fourth quarter against Texas three weeks ago but got walloped by a combined score of 89-20 the past two weeks by Kansas State and Texas Tech. In a freakish development, safeties Dwain Crawford and Brandon Stiggers both suffered broken legs last week against Tech, with Crawford's coming in pregame warmups.
Perhaps the best motivation is trying to play spoiler against the fifth-place team in the BCS standings.
``You've got to do something. We better go out and play,'' Morriss said. ``It is about personal pride and how you want to represent your football program and yourself. This is another game. Let's go have some fun and go play. When it comes right down to it after you settle in and start to play, it's all about self-motivation and personal pride.''
Or simply not getting embarrassed.
``You don't want to go out there and look stupid on national television,'' Baylor linebacker Nick Moore said. ``We want to go out there and give it our best.''