Thursday, October 30, 2003
Sooners hope to avoid third straight upset to OSU
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma State came close three years ago,
pulled off a huge upset the next, and then went out and routed
Oklahoma last season.
The Cowboys have nearly done it all against their state rival
except come into this annual showdown as the favorite.
That won't change Saturday when No. 14 Oklahoma State visits No.
1 Oklahoma looking for an unlikely third straight win over the
Sooners, who are favored by 16 points.
"I think some guys who have been here a long time, and have
worked so hard, they feel a little disrespected," Cowboys tight
end Charlie Johnson said. "But this year, it's more than OU-OSU.
It will impact the standings a lot."
The Sooners (8-0, 4-0 Big 12) lead the league's South Division,
with the Cowboys (7-1, 3-1) a game behind.
Oklahoma State is looking for its first league title since 1976,
when the conference was the Big Eight. In fact, the Cowboys figure
they are chasing a Bowl Championship Series game, too.
"I honestly believe we're both playing for the same thing,"
Oklahoma State wide receiver Rashaun Woods said. "We're playing
for bowl aspirations and titles, too."
In other Top 25 games Saturday, it's No. 2 Miami at No. 10
Virginia Tech, No. 6 Washington State at No. 3 USC, No. 4 Georgia
vs. No. 23 Florida at Jacksonville, Fla., No. 5 Florida State at
Notre Dame, Louisiana Tech at No. 7 LSU; No. 8 Ohio State at Penn
State; and No. 11 Michigan at No. 9 Michigan State.
Also, it's No. 12 Nebraska at No. 16 Texas, Illinois at No. 13
Iowa; Northwestern at No. 18 Purdue; Duke at No. 19 Tennessee;
South Carolina at No. 20 Mississippi; Ball State at No. 21 Northern
Illinois; Indiana at No. 24 Minnesota; and No. 25 Pittsburgh at
Oklahoma leads the series 74-16-7, but Oklahoma State has won
five of the last eight games. Upsets the past two years have played
a large role in the team's resurgence under third-year coach Les
After nearly derailing the Sooners' national title bid in 2000,
the Cowboys pulled off a 16-13 shocker the next year that denied
Oklahoma a spot in the Big 12 title game and possibly the national
Last season, Oklahoma State led by as many as 29 points in a
"They kicked our butts from the opening kickoff until the final
whistle," Sooners wide receiver Mark Clayton said. "Last year was
more dominant. They manhandled us."
That's something rarely heard from the Sooners, who know quite a
bit about dominance.
Oklahoma has flattened most of its opponents this year with the
nation's second-ranked scoring offense (44.2) and the fifth-ranked
defense (255.9 yards a game).
The Sooners finally have an high-powered offense behind
quarterback Jason White to keep the pressure off its dominant
defense -- something that wasn't the case in the deflating loss at
Oklahoma State last year.
"We are much better in production -- yards and points -- that we
were a year ago," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "That needs to
It will have to should Woods resume his mastery of the Sooners'
secondary -- the 6-foot-2 receiver has 20 catches for 355 yards and
four touchdowns in the Cowboys' two wins.
The Sooners should be better equipped to handle Oklahoma State's
explosive offense this year: Oklahoma has 20 sacks in the past four
games, has not allowed a touchdown longer than 27 yards this season
and star defensive lineman Tommie Harris is at full strength.
"We're not going to let it happen," defensive lineman Dusty
Dvoracek said of Woods' chances for a similar performance. "No
Maybe not. But the Cowboys clearly aren't deferring to their
more-heralded rivals anymore.
The assumption that Oklahoma State is a mere bump in the
Sooners' road to the Sugar Bowl may be mistaken, Miles warned.
"The two teams that will play this Saturday -- one may be the
best team in college football and the other one is a darned good
football team," he said. "This game will be played to determine
which one is which."<
^Miami at Virginia Tech=
This was supposed to be a game of unbeatens, but Virginia Tech
(6-1, 2-1 Big East) lost at West Virginia last Wednesday.
Miami (7-0, 3-0), meanwhile, is looking for its 40th straight
regular-season win and fourth straight over the Hokies.
The Hurricanes need a win to keep their national title hopes
alive, while the Hokies' sights are set on a league title. The
teams meet as Big East members for the final time. Both start play
in the ACC next season.
Last year's game was a wild one -- Miami won 56-45 in the Orange
Bowl with Willis McGahee running for six TDs.<
^Georgia vs. Florida=
This year's version of The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail
Party will feature the Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 SEC) trying to end a
five-game losing streak against the Gators (5-3, 3-2).
A year ago, an undefeated Georgia was favored to beat Florida
under new coach Ron Zook, but the Gators won 20-13. At stake is
Georgia's SEC title hopes, along with an outside chance at the