Big 12 champ Oklahoma (11-2) plays West Virginia in Fiesta Bowl.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Oklahoma didn't get the chance
to play for the nation's top billing that coach Bob
Stoops had campaigned for after the Sooners won the
Big 12 Conference championship. Facing a team that
was in position to play for the national title until
the last week of the regular season will have to be
an acceptable substitute.
The third-ranked Sooners (11-2) found out Sunday
that they will play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 against
No. 11 West Virginia (10-2), which was in line to play
in the Bowl Championship Series title game until an
upset loss to Pittsburgh in its final game.
"Going into the last week of the year we played
Missouri, No. 1 in the country, and West Virginia was
No. 2 -- or No. 1 in the other poll," Stoops said. "It's
a big challenge, and we're excited about it."
The two schools will be meeting for the fourth time
ever and the first time since 1987, but there's a little
familiarity between Stoops and West Virginia coach
"I know they've got a lot of great athletes
at every position and since Bob has been there, they've
done a great job recruiting and a great job coaching
them up," Rodriguez said. "We actually visited
there a few years ago and talked some football. We've
got a tremendous amount of respect for not only the
kind of players they have, but how they have built
"Each and every year, they're one of the best
teams in the country and they've proven that again
Stoops recalled Rodriguez's staff being "just
a bunch of great guys" during their visit, and
he said he admired the West Virginia coach's personality
that he feels is shown through the way his team plays.
"Being around Rich and his staff, I just felt
there are a lot of similarities in how we try and coach.
Maybe background and being from the same area, all
those kind of things kind of makes you feel comfortable," said
Stoops, who hails from Ohio, while Rodriguez is from
neighboring West Virginia.
"I just felt like we really coach in a similar
way, and I've got a lot of respect for what they've
done and how they coach."
West Virginia, the Big East Conference champion,
brings in the nation's No. 4 rushing offense that averages
292.9 yards while Oklahoma boasts the eighth-best rushing
defense, allowing only 91.9 yards per game.
Stoops joked that he'd seen Rodriguez give a breakdown
of the Mountaineers' potent read option run game on
television and "we're going to dissect that whole
segment that he went over."
"They do a fabulous job. They've got excellent
skill players that they run the triple option with
and you've got to be really disciplined to play it," Stoops
said. "If you're not really disciplined and even
if you are, they've got people that can beat you, make
you miss them, make big plays and they're very disciplined
in how they run it."
While the Sooners have faced plenty of spread offenses
this season, none have rushed the ball as effectively
as the one led by running back Steve Slaton and quarterback
Pat White, who Rodriguez said should be recovered from
a dislocated thumb -- suffered in the loss to Pittsburgh
-- in a few days.
"We've been fairly used to seeing it, although
sometimes we've been really great at it and other times
we've struggled a little bit," Stoops said. "We've
got a good number of weeks to really get prepared for
Feldman of ESPN ranks Brent
as his top assistant coach, Sports
Fiesta Bowl, Mel Kiper of ESPN praises the Sooner defensive
, and Tom Dienhart of the Sporting News compares
hire of Bo Pelini to Stoops at Oklahoma.
John Shinn of the Norman Transcript
for the postseason, John Hoover of the Tulsa
takes a look at West
, Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman
Dave Sittler of the World
on OU's bright
, Shinn on OU and the BCS
Hoover on OU fans supporting
Sooners in San Antonio, Trotter on bucking January
, Clay Horning of the Transcript
and Mike Strain of the World
West Virginia head coach Rich
reacts the playing OU in Arizona, the Charleston
traveling to Arizona, the Charleston Mail
Pitt, the Beckley Register-Herald
in Morgantown and the Gazette
play that got