Archive for Tuesday, October 23, 2001

OU, Nebraska could meet again

Sooners, Huskers to play this weekend, might meet in Big 12 Championship

October 23, 2001

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— Don't expect this to be the only game this season between No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Nebraska.

Their game Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., will most likely be a preview of the Big 12 championship game. No matter what happens, the Sooners (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) will still be in control in the South Division and the Cornhuskers (8-0, 4-0) keep the upper hand in the North Division.

It's also the biggest game in the country this week, matching the top two teams in the BCS poll. Defending national champion Oklahoma is No. 1 and Nebraska is No. 2 in the rankings released Monday night. The rankings determine the teams that will play for the national title. Texas was ranked No. 6.

"To have the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the first BCS poll of the year and to have those teams playing one another this weekend only adds to the excitement surrounding Big 12 football," said Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

Oklahoma has won 20 straight games, including a 31-14 victory over Nebraska last season after quickly falling behind 14-0.

"I feel very good about where our team is at, the way we've played and what we've been able to do," Stoops said. "We're anxious to go compete with Nebraska."

Both teams were almost caught being too eager to get to this game.

The Sooners had a hard time putting away Baylor, finally winning 33-17 Saturday to give the Bears their 25th straight Big 12 loss. And Nebraska was tied at halftime against Texas Tech before pulling out a 41-31 win.

"You don't get much help from media and fans in preparing your team when everybody really is looking down the road," said Huskers coach Frank Solich.

Despite the close score against Tech, Solich said he liked the way his players responded as well as their intensity when challenged.

None of the other Big 12 coaches were bold enough to make predictions, but they had their takes on the game.

Kansas coach Terry Allen still has to face Nebraska, but the Jayhawks have already lost 38-10 to Oklahoma.

"Nebraska will have to work hard to get their points," Allen said. "Oklahoma has a better defense than a year ago, and I think they were exceptional last year."

Oklahoma State coach Les Miles gives the edge to the Sooners. But he doesn't have to face Nebraska, and doesn't need to bad-mouth the instate rival he plays in the Nov. 24 season finale.

"I think Oklahoma's defense will match up against Nebraska's offense, and if Oklahoma's offense can do what Texas Tech's offense could do against them, it would be an opportunity for an Oklahoma win," Miles said.

As for the Big 12 races, the Sooners and Cornhuskers can do no worse than falling into a first-place tie in their respective divisions. And whichever team loses Saturday would still have the inside track on the tiebreaker.

Their rematch is likely to come Dec. 1 at Texas Stadium.

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Quote of the week: "We went to Texas and laid an egg. ... We have to get over that now. We are embarrassed as a team, but we are still in pretty good shape and we still have a lot out there for us. ... It's one of those things we want to get behind us as fast as we can," said Colorado coach Gary Barnett, whose team fell from 14th to 25th in the AP poll after a 41-7 loss at No. 7 Texas.

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Extra points: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder prefers to stick with one quarterback, but said Monday that doesn't mean he won't use both Mark Dunn and Ell Roberson. Dunn, the backup, was 8-for-11 passing and directed to straight TD drives in Saturday's 31-24 loss to Texas A&M; after Roberson's ankle injury gave him more problems. ... Texas QB Chris Simms has certainly bounced back from the four interceptions in a 14-3 Oklahoma, which prompted some fans to start calling for Major Applewhite's return. Simms has eight TDs the past two games. Longhorns coach Mack Brown said Simms isn't bothered by negative comments, and has showed it with his play the last two weeks.

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