Oklahoma looking almost unbeatable

Updated: October 21, 2003, 2:04 AM ET

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There is a simple formula for beating No. 1 Oklahoma, says one coach who has already game-planned against the unbeaten Sooners.

"It's going to take a great, great football team being at their best and the Sooners being off a little bit," Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said Monday.

The Sooners (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) opened their Big 12 season Oct. 4 with a 53-7 rout of McCarney's Cyclones. In the ensuing two weeks, they've laid a 65-13 whipping on nationally ranked Texas and vanquished Missouri 34-13 after building a quick 21-point lead.

"They protect the ball so well, have so much talent throughout that football team," McCarney said Monday. "Quality depth. Jason White is a legitimate Heisman candidate. They're going to have to be off a little, maybe turn it over a little, and the other team is going to have to play as well as they could possibly play."

Behind White, a senior quarterback who is showing no ill effects from multiple injuries of the past, the Sooners are No. 2 in the nation in scoring with a 45.7-point average.

Plus, they have a stifling defense that ranks eighth nationally by yielding just 14.4 points per game.

Oklahoma also possesses a game-breaking special teams star in kick returner Antonio Perkins. His 69-yard touchdown return against Missouri was his fourth of the year, tying a Division I-A season record, and was the seventh of his career, tying the NCAA mark.

"They've assembled a really, really good football team," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. "You see them on TV, you feel it a little bit. When you're standing on that sideline, you really feel it."

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops admits this team compares favorably with his national championship team of 2000.

"Overall, we have more quality depth, more players ready to play and far and away our most experienced team," Stoops said.

"It's hard to explain ... but there seems to be a special quality about these guys, a genuine humility to them and a hunger to them in wanting to play well. I just felt in the last few years we were a little bit short in some areas.

"But it's like we're stronger this year overall. And you have the leadership with the seniors and juniors."

One surprise is White's lights-out play. He leads the nation in pass efficiency rating at 174.2, going 149-for-221 for 2,040 yards and 22 touchdowns. He's thrown just four interceptions.

"I guess we expected Jason to be very good, and he's turned out to be more than great the way he's played. So that's been such a plus, just his execution," Stoops said.

White is not, however, the only quarterback standout in the Big 12 this year. In fact, the conference is a veritable cornucopia of signal-callers. Texas Tech's B.J. Symons, for example, is on track to erase just about every passing record.

Symons has 3,209 yards and 24 touchdowns in his last six games and is on pace for what would be an NCAA record of 6,400-plus yards and 54-plus touchdown passes if he gets to play a 13th game in a bowl.

In addition, Kansas has Bill Whittemore, Kansas State has Ell Roberson and Missouri has Brad Smith, just to name a few.

It's no wonder the Big 12 boasts six of the country's top 15 scoring teams, with Texas Tech No. 1 at 47.1 points per game.

Texas has one of the most talented of all in freshman Vince Young.

"It's a credit to the coaches and their recruiting," said Texas coach MackBrown. "And it's a credit to their ability to coach."


STATE RIVALRY: Anybody who says he seriously predicted at the start of the year that Kansas would have a better record than Kansas State when the two renewed their state rivalry on Oct. 25 is a liar.

Yet, that's how they stand. The Wildcats, who were ranked in the top 10 before losing three of their last four, will be 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the league at the 1:10 kickoff while Mark Mangino's Jayhawks are 5-2 and 2-1.

Oddsmakers are not impressed. The Wildcats have been installed as 22-point favorites.


BEAT IT: First-year coach Guy Morriss is getting frustrated with his mistake-prone Baylor Bears.

"It would be nice if we could get from the hotel to the stadium this week without a personal foul," Morriss said. "Maybe it's time for some of these kids to move on. Obviously, we're not getting through to them."

Morriss is particularly upset with many of his seniors.

"I think some of them, the only way they'll stop being a problem, is to graduate. We're not having the senior leadership we need from them to put some pressure on their peers. Maybe they don't get it."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index