Big 12 set for final non-conference weekend

Friday, September 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ This is the last weekend before the games really count in the Big 12.

The non-conference part of the Big 12 schedule wraps up Saturday with just more than half of the league's teams in action. Seven teams get their final tuneup before the games count in the standings, while the other five take the weekend off.

Of the teams in action, it seems that only Oklahoma State faces a legitimate challenge, while Baylor tries to rebound from the loss of injured quarterback Greg Cicero.

Oklahoma State (2-0) is home against No. 22 Southern Mississippi (1-1), which is coming off a 21-0 victory at Alabama after a season-opening 19-16 loss at Tennessee. The Cowboys and Golden Eagles have never met.

In other games Saturday involving Big 12 teams, top-ranked Nebraska plays Iowa; fourth-ranked Kansas State entertains North Texas; No. 17 Oklahoma is home against Rice; No. 15 Texas is home against Houston; and Kansas plays Southern Illinois.

Colorado, Iowa State, Missouri, Texas A&M and Texas Tech all have an open date before a full slate of Big 12 games the following weekend.

While Oklahoma State also is coming off a shutout victory, Southwest Texas State certainly isn't on the same level as Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles may be 0-9 against Big 12 teams, but last year went to wire at Nebraska before losing 20-13.

Oklahoma State didn't have any offensive problems against Tulsa and Southwest Texas, averaging 402 total yards per game. But Cowboys coach Bob Simmons knows those stats don't mean much considering how much tougher the competition will be Saturday.

``I like our skill on offense, but our execution has got to be flawless,'' Simmons said. ``The mistakes we've made the last couple of games, we cannot make in this kind of ball game.''

Baylor (1-1) tries to recover from the loss of Cicero, who was lost for the season when he broke his collarbone in last weekend's 34-9 loss to Minnesota. The Bears play South Florida (2-1) for the first time.

After a week off, Nebraska (2-0) plays Iowa (0-3), this time with Eric Crouch as the starting quarterback. Last year as the backup quarterback, Crouch rushed for three touchdowns in a 42-7 victory over the Hawkeyes.

Kansas State (3-0) tries to extend its 24-game home winning streak against North Texas (0-3). The Eagles are coached by Darrell Dickey, who was the four-year starter at quarterback for Kansas State from 1979-82 and led the Wildcats to their first bowl game as a senior.

Oklahoma (2-0), which has scored 100 points in its first two games, renews a series with Rice (1-2) that has been dormant since 1979. The Sooners have won all six previous games, including 63-21 in the last meeting.

Texas (1-1) tries to rebound from its loss at Stanford when it plays in-state rival Houston (1-2) for the first time since 1995, when the Longhorns had 614 total yards in a 52-20 victory. Texas has 833 total yards in its first two games this year.

For the first time since 1987, Kansas (1-1) plays Southern Illinois (1-2), which has bolstered its lineup with eight Division I-A transfers, six of them from the University of Florida.