Saturday, November 16, 2002

After first loss, Sooners set sights on smaller goals

But BCS race still on their minds

The Associated Press

WACO, Texas - The Oklahoma Sooners are focusing on more immediate goals, knowing there's nothing they can do immediately to get back into the national championship picture.

An expected blowout victory at Baylor today won't help Oklahoma (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) regain spots in the Bowl Championship Series standings. The Sooners dropped from first to fourth in the Associated Press Top 25 and the BCS standings after last week's 30-26 loss at Texas A&M.

Texas also lost ground in the BCS last week, falling from fourth to fifth, after a 41-0 win over Baylor (3-7, 1-5). In their last five games - all losses - the Bears have been outscored 222-21 and shut out three times.

Miami and Washington State, two of the teams ahead of the Sooners in the BCS, don't play this week.

So Oklahoma will worry about what it can control - the Big 12 South.

"You have to have more immediate goals - to win your division, to win a Big 12 championship," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "You have to really set your sights and focus in on that first and foremost. If you're fortunate enough that things line up right, you may have something more after that."

If the Sooners beat Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, they get a spot in the Big 12 championship game, probably against No. 17 Colorado. The winner of that game is guaranteed a berth in one of the four BCS bowls.

"Our goals are still out there. That's our motivation right now. We're looking at Baylor and know we have to win the next three," Sooners center Vince Carter said. "Just look at last year. Nobody would have thought Nebraska would end up in the championship game, but things happen."

Nebraska didn't even make it to the Big 12 championship game last year after its first loss, 62-36 to Colorado, came in the final regular-season game. But the Cornhuskers still got an at-large berth in the BCS title game, where it lost to Miami.

Oklahoma has lost consecutive games under Stoops only once, in 1999 - his first season - when the Sooners lost at Notre Dame and against Texas. Since then, the Sooners are 4-0 in games after a loss and have won those games by an average margin of 37-3.

"There have been lots of upsets this year, and more are probably coming up," Baylor senior receiver Reggie Newhouse said. "Any given Saturday, anything can happen."

But the Sooners have never lost to Baylor. Oklahoma has won all 11 games played in the series, the last three years by an average margin of 32 points.

Baylor has just two games left under coach Kevin Steele, who is coaching the rest of the season after being fired Nov. 3. Steele is 9-34 overall and 1-29 in the Big 12.

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No. 4 Texas 77, No. 16 Georgia 71
No. 18 Marquette 73, Villanova 61
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Alter 42, Reading 10
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Beechwood 28, Holy Cross 6
Highlands 52, Scott 0
Boone Co. 40, Louisville Eastern 39
LexCath 29, CovCath 27
Trinity 31, Dixie Heights 16
Roncalli 17, East Central 10 (OT)
Mason Co. 49, Lloyd 21
Newport Central Catholic 47, Raceland 7

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