Oklahoma Could Get Blowout It Needs

Friday, November 19th 2004, 6:44 am
By: News On 6

WACO, Texas (AP) _ Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops could get the blowout victory his Sooners need Saturday without any regrettable decisions. No. 2 Oklahoma has never lost to Baylor, winning the last five years by an average margin of 38 points. They will need to do that _ and maybe more _ to make a good impression on the poll voters.

``That's unfortunate,'' Stoops said. ``You're sitting there at 10-0, you win a big road game and everybody's criticizing it. You win at home and you win too well and everybody criticizes it.''

But that's the reality of the Bowl Championship Series, and even the coach got caught up in it at the end of the Sooners' last game.

In the final minutes of the Sooners' 30-3 win against Nebraska, Oklahoma still had its offensive starters in and on fourth down decided against kicking a field goal. The Sooners didn't get the first down, or any more points, but Stoops later said he regretted the decision.

This week's polls, however, only emphasized why Stoops has to consider such moves.

Auburn (10-0) tied Oklahoma (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) for No. 2 in the AP poll. Auburn, which plays Saturday at Alabama, also moved within two points of the Sooners in the coaches poll.

Oklahoma maintained the second spot behind top-rated Southern California in the BCS standings. But the Sooners' lead over Auburn was cut in half, to .0271 from .0567 points last week.

``The only thing that we ask is that all teams are being evaluated the same way that we are,'' center Vince Carter said. ``When you are constantly in the spotlight you're going to catch a lot of criticism. I believe that we are handling it well. As long as we keep playing well and keep winning games, we're going to be fine.''

If things go as expected Saturday, Stoops won't have to worry about the temptation of trying to add any late scores.

Baylor (3-7, 1-6) pulled off an overtime upset of No. 22 Texas A&M three weeks ago. But the Bears have lost their two games since by 25 and 28 points.

``Our kids will line up and play as hard as we can for as long as we can, and see what we can get done,'' Bears coach Guy Morriss said. ``We respect Oklahoma, but I don't see us conceding. I don't see us hanging our heads.''

The Bears are down to third-string quarterback Terrance Parks, a redshirt freshman, after Shawn Bell broke his hand last week like first-teamer Dane King did last month. Leading receiver Dominique Zeigler (fourth in the Big 12 with 55 catches) is among five players suspended by Morriss for violating unspecified team rules.

Oklahoma and Auburn both have two games left before the bowl pairings will be made.

After Baylor, Oklahoma has the Big 12 title game, likely against a team without a winning conference record. The Tigers' last game will be in the SEC championship game against No. 11 Georgia or No. 15 Tennessee.

Because of their weaker remaining schedule, the Sooners' best chance of maintaining second place in the BCS and earning a spot in the national title game is with a couple of convincing wins.

``We don't worry about that because it is out of our hands,'' cornerback Marcus Walker said. ``We can't do anything about the BCS. All we can do is think about our next game.''

The Sooners have won 22 straight regular season games and quarterback Jason White has emerged as a favorite to win his second Heisman Trophy.

White completed 29 of 35 passes, including 18 straight, for 383 yards and three touchdowns against Nebraska. He has thrown 151 passes without an interception over the past five games, with at least three TDs in each of those games.