Nov. 4, 2000
By JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer
WACO, Texas -- Oklahoma and Josh Heupel needed a breather like this one.
After an emotional October that saw the top-ranked Sooners defeat rivals Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska, Heupel and his teammates started November with a 56-7 victory over Baylor on Saturday.
But it was only the quiet before the storm likely starts again. Next week, the Sooners (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) travel to play No. 24 Texas A&M in another key Big 12 showdown.
The Sooners are 0-4 in College Station, where the Aggies knocked off then-No. 10 Kansas State 26-10 last week. And the Aggies will be looking for revenge after a 51-6 loss in Norman a year ago.
"College Station is a wild place from what I've heard. But we've been in big-time atmosphere's before and we'll be extremely confident and prepared," said Heupel, who threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns against the nation's 104th-rated defense.
The break was fun while it lasted.
J.T. Thatcher returned Baylor's first punt for a touchdown and Curtis Fagan had two of his three TD catches as the Sooners rolled to a 42-0 halftime lead. Heupel even ran for a touchdown.
Sooners fans, who made up about half of the announced crowd of 31,106, threw oranges on the field after some of Oklahoma's touchdowns, a sign of expectations that their team will play in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.
Considered one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy, Heupel could have had even bigger numbers but didn't play in the second half. He was 21-of-29 without an interception.
"When a guy's as accurate as that, you know he's something special," Baylor coach Kevin Steele said.
Baylor hit Heupel several times on blitzes and so with a comfortable lead, Sooners coach Bob Stoops put in little-used backup Nate Hybl to start the third quarter.
"We wanted to get Heupel some rest. He's had a tough three weeks," said Stoops.
"It brought me back to my junior college days when I only had to play one half of football," Heupel said.
Baylor broke up the shutout when back-up Hybl's shuffle pass went straight into the belly of Baylor safety Odell James, who took it 18 yards for the Bears' only score.
Even with the A&M game looming, Sooners players had insisted they wouldn't look past Baylor (2-7, 0-6).
They could have if they had wanted to.
Oklahoma came in averaging 44.4 points. The bad news Bears have lost 19 consecutive Big 12 games and rank 113th nationally in total offense. The offense has just one offensive touchdown in five games.
Six of OU's seven scoring drives took three minutes or less. Only three of them took more than five plays.
And while the Sooners offense marched up and down the field, the defense held Baylor to 94 yards of total offense, including just 25 yards passing.
"We have the number one in front of our name now. We have to live up the expectations no matter who we're playing," said OU defensive back Roy Williams.
After Hatcher's punt return, Heupel set up the Sooners' next score with a 57-yard pass to Andre Woolfolk. Two plays later, Heupel took a quick snap over the right side from the 4 for his sixth rushing touchdown this season.
Heupel then connected with Fagan for touchdown passes of 9 and 43 yards. On the second, Fagan took a short pass over the middle and ran for the corner of the end zone. Cornerback Danielle McLean had the angle but Fagan made an unexpected cut on a soggy field and left him at the 15.
Ahead 28-0 after the first quarter, the Sooners got a 2-yard TD run from Quentin Griffin, his 13th of the season.
Heupel's third scoring pass, a 39-yarder to fullback Seth Littrell, who had slipped out of the backfield and beat the Baylor secondary down the sideline, closed out the half.
Hybl, who had attempted just seven passes this season, atoned for the interception with touchdown passes of 36 and 31 yards to Fagan and Antwone Savage.