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Sooner Nation Makes a Bold Statement

Big 12: Oklahoma's 41-31 victory over Kansas State means program is back and that game with Nebraska will have bearing on national title--as in years past.

October 15, 2000|From Associated Press

MANHATTAN, Kan. — It will seem like old times.

Thanks to quarterback Josh Heupel and a remarkable two-year turnaround under Coach Bob Stoops, Oklahoma's annual game with Nebraska is once again front and center in the national championship picture.

The No. 8-ranked Sooners, with Heupel completing 29 of 37 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns, bolted to a 17-point halftime lead Saturday and held on for a 41-31 victory over No. 2 Kansas State.

While probably knocking Kansas State out of the national championship race, Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0 in the Big 12) jumped into contention itself. In consecutive games the Sooners have routed then-No. 11 Texas, 63-14, and handed the Wildcats their first home loss in 26 games. They'll have an open date next week before playing top-ranked Nebraska on Oct. 28 at Norman, Okla.

In the three seasons before Stoops arrived, the Sooners were 12-22. In 1 1/2 seasons under Stoops, they're 13-5, and 6-0 for the first time since 1987.

Kansas State (6-1, 2-1) had defeated Oklahoma five consecutive times, and took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter on quarterback Jonathan Beasley's 15-yard touchdown run.

However, the Sooners bounced back quickly, with J.T. Thatcher's 93-yard kickoff return setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Seth Littrell.

Oklahoma scored on its next possession as Curtis Fagan took a short pass from Heupel and turned it into a 15-yard touchdown play.

A two-yard touchdown run by Beasley made it 17-14 with 9:31 left in the second quarter, but Heupel capped an eight-play, 79-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth down. Heupel, who has 21 Oklahoma and Big 12 passing records, had plays of 31 yards to Andre Woolfolk and 34 yards to Josh Norman on the drive.

Then, with three minutes left in the half, Quentin Griffin broke three tackles on a 17-yard touchdown run that gave Oklahoma a 31-14 lead.

The game's biggest play, however, came on a third and 26 in the third quarter. Heupel threw a short pass to Antwone Savage, who eluded five tacklers and ran 74 yards for a touchdown that increased Oklahoma's lead to 38-14.

Kansas State pulled within 38-31 on Jamie Rheem's 38-yard field goal, and two early fourth-quarter touchdowns--a 69-yard play from Beasley to Quincy Morgan and Terence Newman's 16-yard return of a blocked punt.

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