No. 4 Oklahoma (8-1) hosts Baylor on Saturday evening at Owen Field.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- The bracket is all set for No.
4 Oklahoma. The Sooners' road to reach their postseason
goals begins, like most tournaments, against a heavy
underdog and has increasingly more difficult competition
along the way.
In the first round, Oklahoma (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) draws
last-place Baylor (3-7, 0-6). After that, Texas Tech
and Oklahoma State stand in the way of the Sooners'
hopes for a fifth Big 12 championship game appearance
in the past six years -- likely against No. 5 Kansas
or No. 7 Missouri.
Beyond that, their hopes for a national championship
remain alive -- although it would likely take some
help along the way to move up from fifth in the BCS
"Everybody talks about the basketball teams
getting momentum in the tournament. We're kind of in
a tournament, and you want to kind of build at the
end so that you're rolling and playing good football
down the stretch so you can keep it going in a good
way," Sooners offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson
Wilson said he's shown his players film of the Baylor
game from four years ago the Sooners won 41-3 but felt
a weakness was exposed when the Bears had five sacks.
Oklahoma had only allowed 12 sacks in 10 previous games.
Over Oklahoma's last four games that year -- including
back-to-back losses in the Big 12 and BCS championship
games -- opponents racked up 22 sacks against Heisman
Trophy winner Jason White.
Whether it's sacks or something else, the Sooners
don't want to develop any bad habits.
"You want to play well at the end and keep
momentum and keep building because I think if you get
out of sync you can show some vulnerability to future
opponents," Wilson said. "You want to come
out, take care of business, have respect for who you're
playing. Anything, in this day and age, can happen."
After coach Bob Stoops had complained the last several
weeks that his team was progressing slower than successful
teams of the past, he was pleased with the strides
Oklahoma made during an open week leading up to a 42-14
win against Texas A&M on Saturday.
"I would say in that week off, what I saw Saturday,
we did make improvement. Now, we have to continue to
make it," Stoops said. "It gets back to taking
care of the football, and I think the week off had
us really anxious to play again. Hopefully we'll continue
On offense, Oklahoma was back to its early season,
high-scoring ways. While Sam Bradford tossed five touchdown
passes (including four to tight end Jermaine Gresham)
and had the highest rated in a game in school history,
the Sooners had their best rushing performance against
a Big 12 opponent this season with 186 yards.
The defense didn't flinch until the fourth quarter,
when Texas A&M scored two touchdowns after it was
way too late for a comeback.
The only problem on defense for the Sooners was
an injury to Big 12 sacks leader Auston English.
English suffered a hairline fracture when he was
kicked in the leg and is expected to miss this week,
although Stoops reported the defensive end was already
feeling much better.
"I think we're getting there," cornerback
Reggie Smith said. "A lot of little dings and
stuff we got taken care of during that off week, but
I think we're trying to improve now."
In tournament time, there's no room for a slip-up.
Any loss would knock the Sooners out of the national
title picture and leave them dependent on a tiebreaker
situation in the Big 12 South.
"It's been shown this year if you slop around,
you can lose every Saturday," Wilson said. "You
want to win this one, but you also want to build at
the end of the year."