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OKLAHOMA / OKLAHOMA REPORT

Better Late Than Never

December 29, 2002|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Having Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl takes a little getting used to, since the game traditionally features teams from the Pacific 10 and Big Ten, but because of the bowl championship series configuration, the Sooners, a Big 12 team, are here. Unfortunately for Coach Bob Stoops, it's a year too late.

Last year, the Rose Bowl was the national championship game and Oklahoma was looking to repeat its 2000 national championship. The Sooners lost to Oklahoma State in their final regular-season game and were eliminated from the national championship picture.

"Coaching a Rose Bowl isn't something you count on when you're at Oklahoma," Stoops said Saturday. "But I was hoping we might be here last year."

Stoops, however, is no stranger to the Rose Bowl. He played in the 1982 Rose Bowl as a defensive back for Iowa and was a graduate assistant coach for the Hawkeyes in the 1985 game. Iowa lost both times, which explains Stoops' all-business attitude Saturday, which included a closed practice at Loyola Maymount and no media access to players. After trips to "The Tonight Show" and Disneyland, Stoops wanted to stress the importance of the game.

"This is as big as it comes," Stoops said. "I think that the players understand the game is the most important experience they will have here. I told them that winning is the most important thing far and away because out of everything they do on this trip, the outcome of this game is what they will remember most for the rest of their lives."

Stoops has other motivation, too.

"[Oklahoma] hasn't played in a Rose Bowl," he said. "And at a school with our great tradition you don't often get the opportunity to be the first to do something. But with all the trophies we have in our case, we don't have a Rose Bowl trophy."

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The Rose Bowl is three days away, but Washington State has already scored a lopsided victory in a bowl of sorts.

The Cougars won the 47th "Beef Bowl" at Lawry's restaurant, easily consuming more prime rib than Oklahoma at one of the Rose Bowl's long-standing traditions.

When all the plates had been cleared, organizers were stunned by the final count: Washington State had downed 585 pounds of prime rib Thursday, Oklahoma only 440 pounds Saturday.

"It's one of the biggest differences in beef bowl history," said Todd Erickson, a Lawry's spokesman.

Washington State had 134 people in its dining party, compared to 108 for Oklahoma.

Washington State fans shouldn't be too happy that Oklahoma got too full too quickly. Before the 1998 Rose Bowl, the Cougars consumed more beef than Michigan, but lost the game, 21-16.

Offensive lineman Brett Rayl ate a team-high seven cuts of prime rib for Oklahoma. Four players ate four cuts each for Washington State.

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Staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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