Oklahoma rises to No. 3 in polls, No. 4 in latest BCS standings.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Just minutes before the start
of Oklahoma's football game with Baylor, the final
score came in: Illinois 28, Ohio State 21.
As he prepared the Sooners to take the field Saturday,
coach Bob Stoops learned the top-ranked Buckeyes had
lost, a key development for Oklahoma as it seeks to
maneuver back into position for a possible berth in
the Bowl Championship Series title game.
But he didn't tell his team, although he acknowledged
after the Sooners beat Baylor 52-21 that some of his
players likely either knew what had happened to Ohio
State or figured it out during the game.
"We didn't make a big deal about it at all," Stoops
said. "In the end, none of it matters. You still have
to take care of your business. It ruined some of you
guys' stories. You guys had it all figured out last
week. Now it's changed again. ... You've got to keep
winning and keep fighting."
Ohio State fell to No. 7 in this week's Top 25 and
out of the top spot to seventh in the BCS standings,
which were released Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma (9-1, 5-1 Big 12 Conference)
moved up a spot to No. 3 in The Associated Press poll,
even receiving one first-place vote. The Sooners, whose
only loss came on Sept. 29 at Colorado, are fourth
in the BCS standings, behind Louisiana State, Oregon
and undefeated Kansas.
If Oklahoma and Kansas continue on their present
courses, they will meet in the Big 12 title game, so
the Sooners control that bit of their own destiny.
But it seems obvious Oklahoma needs to win out --
starting with this Saturday's game at Texas Tech --
and have either LSU or Oregon lose during the season's
final weeks if the Sooners are to have a chance to
play for the BCS title.
That doesn't mean, however, the Sooners will be
doing any scoreboard watching.
"All we can do is keep playing," junior defensive
back Reggie Smith said. "We have to win our game or
nothing matters. It's up to us, but I think people
started to count us out. So we have to stick together
and keep winning games."
Freshman running back DeMarco Murray, who scored
four touchdowns against Baylor -- one on a 91-yard
kickoff return -- said the Sooners "have nothing to
do" with how other teams might fare.
"We just worry about the two games we've got left," Murray
said. "Everything will fall in place if we continue
to do what we're doing."
Ironically, Stoops' brother, Mike Stoops, could
aid Oklahoma's cause on Thursday, as Mike Stoops' Arizona
Wildcats play Oregon. Bob Stoops said he's sure his
brother understands that an Arizona win would help
the Sooners, but that he hasn't spoken with Mike Stoops
"It doesn't matter if we don't win our next two
games," said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables,
who once served as the Sooners' co-coordinator with
Mike Stoops. "That's kind of how we're looking at it."
Besides traveling to Arizona, Oregon still must
visit UCLA and host Oregon State. LSU will play at
Mississippi and at home against Arkansas before a likely
berth in the Southeastern Conference title game against
Florida, Georgia or Tennessee.
After playing Texas Tech, Oklahoma will host Oklahoma
State in its regular-season finale. The Sooners must
win one of those two games to clinch a berth in the
Big 12 title game opposite either No. 4 Kansas or No.
Once-beaten, fifth-ranked West Virginia also harbors
hopes of reaching the BCS title game, but the Mountaineers
need even more help than Oklahoma does.
"You don't worry about anybody else," Oklahoma offensive
coordinator Kevin Wilson said, repeating the Sooners'
apparent mantra. "There's a lot of football to be played.
"We just want to make sure we've got a chance to
win another Big 12 championship, and from there, the
dust will settle. Strength of schedules and computer
things and all that, they will work out the way they're
going to work out. We've got no control over it, other
than getting ready to come play."