Oklahoma gets break against Baylor

Friday, November 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WACO, Texas (AP) -- Bob Stoops is college football's latest million-dollar coach. Josh Heupel is the hottest quarterback in the Heisman hunt.

Things really couldn't be any better for No. 1 Oklahoma.

But after emotional victories over Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska put the Sooners firmly at the top of the national championship race, are they ripe for a letdown -- and an upset -- on Saturday? Maybe, but Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State will probably have to keep dreaming, because OU is playing Baylor. The bad news Bears have lost 18 straight conference games and scored just two touchdowns in the last 16 quarters.

"Our players are smart enough to know that (No. 1) has happened to them, but why give it up? Why not win one more game and be 8-0?" said Stoops, who this week was given a new five-year contract worth $1.4 million a year.

The Sooners (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) have the nation's second-highest scoring offense at 44.4 points per game. Heupel, whose command performances over the last month thrust him into the race for the Heisman Trophy, is fourth nationally in passing efficiency and averages 313.4 yards per game.

Baylor (2-6, 0-5) is 113th nationally in total offense and 104th in total defense. Heupel's 12 touchdown passes are one more than the Bears have scored all season.

Playing Baylor would seem a good opportunity to either rest Heupel or let him toss up big numbers. His touchdown totals are far behind Purdue's Drew Brees (22) and Florida State's Chris Weinke (23), two other quarterbacks in the Heisman chase.

Stoops, however, said he's not concerned about Heupel's stats.

"If we were, instead of running the ball late (against Texas) we could have fired the ball a few more times to try and get him 300 yards," Stoops said. "That says it all right there. We're concerned about winning and playing well in all parts of the game."

Heupel plays down the Heisman Trophy talk.

"I heard a commentator say I was in the top three," he said.

"I don't want to know, but I couldn't turn it off because we were eating at a Norman restaurant."

Baylor has the misfortune of facing a second No. 1 team in three weeks. The Bears lost 59-0 to Nebraska two weeks ago before the Cornhuskers lost their top spot to the Sooners.

"Not many programs in the history of college football have done this," Baylor coach Kevin Steele said. "It's a monstrous challenge for any program, even a top-10 program.

"The best time to face the No. 1 team in the country is when you're No. 2. But anything's possible."