Heupel continues to make Heisman case

Saturday, October 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel wants no part of any talk about the Heisman Trophy. With any more performances like his last three, he may have no choice.

Heupel and the third-ranked Sooners concluded their stunning run on Saturday by beating No. 1 Nebraska, 31-14. They had previously beaten then-No. 11 Texas and then-No. 2 Kansas State, with Heupel shining in all three.

``He has to be a Heisman candidate, one of the top couple people, no question,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``He is our offense.''

Heupel was 20-of-34 for 300 yards and a touchdown Saturday, and even had a couple well-placed scrambles to finish as the Sooners' second-leading rusher with 46 yards.

He did throw an interception _ he had thrown 145 passes without one _ but it came after the score was 31-14.

``We wanted to come with a lot of pressure,'' Nebraska defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. ``We went with a lot of people and they did a good job of picking them up and a good job of eluding the pass rush. It was frustrating. A lot of credit goes to Heupel.''

Heupel was 17-of-27 for 275 yards and a touchdown in a 63-14 victory over Nebraska. One week later, he was 29-of-37 for a season-high 374 yards and two TDs in the 41-31 victory at Kansas State.

He and the offense sputtered a bit early in falling behind 14-0, but that was forgotten in a 24-point second quarter.

There was nothing, we were ready to go out and do it.

``Early on, things were open,'' Heupel said. ``They were coming with some blitzes. I didn't know if the line was going to pick them up and I was early with some throws.''

He said the two-touchdown deficit ``was nothing we were concerned about. It's a long game, 60 minutes. Stay with what you've got and we'll be successful.''

Heupel had a 21-yard scramble and completions of 18, 16 and 19 yards to set up the Sooners' first score. His touchdown pass, off his back foot and under pressure, was a nicely placed 34-yarder to Curtis Fagan that tied the score.

``There were two or three throws like that and if you go back and look at their tapes, he's uncanny with those type of throws,'' Nebraska coach Frank Solich said.

Heupel also had a 37-yard completion to Antwone Savage to set up Oklahoma's third touchdown.

``There were a couple key passes there where it didn't look like there would be a receiver in the area to make a catch and one gets there,'' Solich said. ``I think the combination of Heupel and their receivers is an excellent combination. They're all playmakers, and they've made their fair share against everybody they've played this year.''

Heupel, wearing an ice wrap around his left elbow, sounded as though the Sooners had just finished playing someone like Texas-El Paso instead of perhaps moving to No. 1 in the nation.

``We can play better than we did today,'' he said. ``We're going to go about our business like we always do.''