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Low Point . . . High Times

Oklahoma: Sooners struggle to a 12-7 victory over rival Oklahoma State, scoring their fewest points in three seasons.

November 26, 2000|From Associated Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma--the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings and Associated Press poll--isn't exactly rolling into the postseason.

An offense rated at or near the top of the national scoring charts all season struggled for the second consecutive week Saturday in a 12-7 victory over Oklahoma State.

Josh Heupel completed 19 of 36 passes for 154 yards--his lowest total in 23 games as a Sooner--with two interceptions. His 248 yards against Texas Tech a week earlier had been his season low.

Oklahoma's point total was its lowest in 26 games since a 29-0 loss to Texas A&M in 1998.

"Fortunately, we made enough big plays to win the game, especially down the stretch," Sooner Coach Bob Stoops said. "Give Oklahoma State credit. We will and I will."

The Sooners, 11-0 overall and 8-0 in the Big 12 Conference, completed their first perfect regular season since 1987. They play Kansas State next Saturday in the Big 12 title game, where a victory would send them to the Orange Bowl to play for the national championship.

Oklahoma State (3-8, 1-7) put up a great effort in Bob Simmons' final game as coach, but came up short in the closing minutes.

"That's what we wanted to do, was have a chance to win in the fourth quarter and put ourselves in position," said Simmons, who is resigning under pressure after six seasons. "We came up short."

Oklahoma drove 99 yards for a touchdown on its first possession, then played inconsistently the rest of the way.

But Heupel came up with two big plays that allowed Oklahoma to run out the clock. Facing third and 11 at the Oklahoma 11 with two minutes left, he completed a 12-yard pass to Curtis Fagan for a first down. Then on third and two with 38 seconds remaining, he ran for four yards.

"The difference between being successful and not successful is a very thin line," Heupel said. "We were on the wrong side of it today for the most part. We need to get things corrected and get ready to go next week."

Oklahoma had held Oklahoma State in check before freshman Tatum Bell took a pitch around the left side and raced 60 yards for a touchdown that made the score 12-7 late in the third quarter.

The Sooners appeared to take control again on the next possession, using a nice run-pass mix to drive from their 21 to the Cowboys' 19. But the drive stalled with two incomplete passes--one a drop on what would have been a first-down catch--and Tim Duncan missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt.

The Cowboys used a 22-yard punt return by Gabe Lindsay to begin their final drive at the Oklahoma 39. They moved inside the 10-yard line before an illegal procedure penalty on third and goal pushed them back. On fourth and goal from the 12, Aso Pogi passed into the end zone for Marcellus Rivers, but cornerback Derrick Strait broke up the play.

"To find ways to win close ball games shows a lot of toughness and character," Stoops said.

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