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Sooners state case for berth in Big 12 title game

11/30/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma center Jon Cooper had a few choice words for reporters as he trudged up the walkway after his team's impressive performance to end the regular season.

"If 61 points isn't enough, I don't know what will be," Cooper said.

The Sooners made an eloquent case for their BCS worthiness down the stretch in their 61-41 victory over Oklahoma State. Oklahoma scored on its last eight possessions and even added a 28-yard touchdown run by Chris Brown with 25 seconds left to punctuate the scoring binge.

BCS style points?

Perhaps, although they did come at the end of a 557-yard effort in which the Sooners averaged 6.8 yards per snap.

That triumph pushed them into a three-way tie at 7-1 with Texas Tech and Texas in the Big 12 South Division. Oklahoma lost to Texas, which lost to Texas Tech, which lost to Oklahoma.

That conundrum will mean that the Big 12 will have to go to the fifth tiebreaker to determine which team will advance to Kansas City to play the championship game against Missouri next week.

The fate of the Big 12 now belongs to 114 voters, 64 coaches and six computers.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he expects to be preparing for Missouri in the championship game starting on Sunday.

"I think we have a really good chance," Stoops said. "We played the No. 2 team in the country and won by 44. We played the No. 12 team here tonight where nobody had beat them. Usually it's what you are doing at the end of the year. And we finished up pretty strong."

Some Texas fans wanted to remind Oklahoma fans of their earlier victory over the Sooners Oct. 11 in Dallas by flying over the stadium before and during the game with a banner that read "45-35 settled on a neutral field" prominently displayed.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford noticed and wondered if the whole BCS process hasn't gotten to be too political.

"To me, that's a little ridiculous," Bradford said. "If it comes to that and doesn't happen on what happened on the football [field], maybe we might need to start looking into another direction."

In the most recent BCS standings, Texas is second behind Alabama and is only .0084 of a point ahead of the fourth-place Sooners.

It will now mean the voters will have to decide Sunday whether the Sooners' 20-point victory against their cross-state rivals -- their largest in Stillwater since 1994 -- was impressive enough to jump the Longhorns.

Texas can claim the earlier victory, but Oklahoma can respond with some convincing arguments since that game.

The Sooners are playing their best football of the season, scoring 60 points for the fourth straight game. They were the first team to beat No. 12 Oklahoma State in Stillwater all season.

Oklahoma appears to have the best nonconference victories with triumphs over Cincinnati -- which will make a BCS bowl game -- and TCU. Texas has the best cross-division victory with a convincing home thrashing of Missouri. And Texas Tech has the only victory over Texas, a last-second comeback triumph in Lubbock.

But Texas struggled against Oklahoma State at home last month, winning only after an interception on the last play of the game. And even though Texas provided a strong 49-9 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday night, the Sooners appear to be playing better over the final month of the season.

"All we can do is hope that all we've done over the last couple of weeks has been enough," Bradford said. "If those people looked at how we've done on the road, it does nothing but help our case we should be in Kansas City. It's out of our hands and all we can do is hope it's enough to get us there."

It did not take long for spin doctors from Texas and Texas Tech to send e-mails stating their case for why their team belongs in the BCS.

Texas coach Mack Brown took to the airwaves during the television broadcast to plead his case while the Sooners were playing in the second half.

And Stoops also took the bully pulpit to plead his team's case as well.

But the uncertainty of the voters and computers left Brown with an uneasy feeling as he prepared for what will be a long, restless wait until the results are announced Sunday afternoon.

"Our plans are to be playing in Kansas City, but it's left up to the guys behind the computers," Brown said. "We'll pray that the right thing happens."