|Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops celebrates an interception off Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)|
Despite crushing Texas, Sooners stay put in poll
The new poll released Sunday offered mixed news for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Their 55-17 thrashing of then-No. 11 Texas wasn't enough to help start a climb back toward the top of the rankings.
But, hey, at least they didn't drop to fourth.
Having slid from first to second to third in successive weeks, the Sooners can take some solace for holding tight at No. 3.
It's a fine spot to be considering the teams ahead of them, LSU and Alabama, meet in a few weeks and the loser is bound to dip a few spots -- and being in the top two at season's end is ultimately all that matters.
Maybe that's why Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops did such little lobbying after the big win over the rival Longhorns on Saturday.
He also insisted that his team only kept piling on points because they were playing well, not in an attempt to sway the voters who'd slowly but surely been downgrading the Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12).
"I don't know if that's necessary," Stoops said. "It is certainly not on my mind. Now don't get me wrong, we want to come here and play absolutely as well as we can. I thought we did that."
Landry Jones wasn't as accurate as usual, and he failed to finish off a pair of early drives that got within 10 yards of the end zone.
Still, he threw three touchdown passes and got Texas so afraid of the pass that it opened room for Dominique Whaley to scoot 64 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
But the 2011 edition of the Red River rivalry won't be remembered for offense. It'll be for the defense scoring three touchdowns for the first time in program history and tying another mark by racking up eight sacks.
And, remember, they did it all against a team that came in undefeated.
So even if they weren't seeking style points, they still picked up a few.
Alas, they did it in an early game, which means LSU and Alabama took the field knowing lopsided wins would help their status among voters. The Tigers beat then-No. 17 Florida 41-11, and the Crimson Tide stopped Vanderbilt 34-0.
"We are not sitting here saying we have to win by this or that. It's way too early in the year," Stoops said.
"I get that's what everyone likes to do. Some other teams have been rewarded for some good games they have played. That's OK. They should be. I'm sure we will be rewarded for playing a game like this today."
Oklahoma won over at least one voter. After being listed first on seven ballots last week, the Sooners were atop eight this week.
If the Longhorns could vote, their rivals would be No. 1 with a bullet.
"That's the best that they've played us," said senior running back Fozzy Whittaker, who finished his career 2-2 against Oklahoma.
"They were just out there flying to the ball, playing faster than us. It's one of those things where you just have to stand back and give them credit for doing what they do best. ... It's kind of hard to see why they slipped down (in the poll) when they played us so well."
The Sooners remain atop the coaches' poll, which is a factor in the BCS standings. The season's first BCS rankings will be released next Sunday.
Next up for Oklahoma is Kansas, a club that's 2-3 and coming off a 70-28 loss to Oklahoma State.
The Sooners and Cowboys -- who are parked at No. 6 -- don't meet until a potentially dramatic finale on Dec. 3. Although there's no Big 12 title game any more, that is starting to look like the equivalent.
OU and OSU are swapping foes next weekend, which could provide some sort of measuring stick.
One more thing for the Sooners to look forward to next weekend is Ryan Broyles becoming the NCAA career leader in receptions.
He has 313, four away from topping the mark set by Taylor Stubblefield of Purdue. He also has caught 42 touchdown passes in his career; his next one will give him sole possession of the Big 12 record, breaking a tie with Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State.