Unbeaten Texas, OU Meet Saturday in Dallas

By KRISTIE RIEKEN
|  Monday, Oct 3, 2011  |  Updated 8:21 PM CDT
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No. 25 Baylor and Iowa State lost for the first time last week and at least one more of the Big 12's undefeated teams will lose its first game this week as No. 3 Oklahoma and 11th-ranked Texas meet in the Red River Rivalry.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops believes a one-loss team from the Big 12 could still compete for the national title because of league's strength with six teams ranked in the Top 25.

He pointed to LSU winning the title in 2007 with a 12-2 record.

"Absolutely it's possible," Stoops said. "Heck, LSU had two when they won it. Anything's possible if a team just two or three years ago can win it with two losses, then a team with one always has a chance."

Stoops went on to point out that the Big 12 being very competitive is nothing new.

"This league has always been tough, good and had a lot of good players and coaches," he said. "I've always said for a number of years that it's been an excellent league."

The Sooners dropped a place in the poll for the second straight week despite a win after occupying the No. 1 spot earlier in the season. Stoops thinks that had to do with playing Ball State last week while Alabama, which leapfrogged Oklahoma, beat No. 17 Florida.

"I think a lot of that is just other people respecting what other teams have done in difficult situations," he said. "That kind of thing happens. I think a lot of it is just based on who you played so I would imagine this game would mean a lot. It's way too early in the season to get anybody to start lobbying about it. I'm not much on that."

Texas coach Mack Brown says the game against Oklahoma is something coaches and players from both teams cherish.

"It's like a bowl game at midseason and there's really nothing like it," he said. "It will be a spectacle."

Now that Texas A&M's departure from the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference has put the annual game against Texas in jeopardy, Brown was asked if it makes keeping the Red River Rivalry going even more important.

"I'm not really into all the realignment stuff," he said. "I'm a little worn out. What I'm going to do is coach ... and this is a special game and it's one that gets national attention. The two teams are usually good so it usually has conference implications as well as national implications."

The Longhorns are in better shape entering this year's matchup with Oklahoma than they were last season when they lost 34-12 to UCLA the week before.

"We're just in a different place," Brown said. "Last year we were coming off a horrible loss to UCLA where we didn't play very well, we didn't force turnovers and we turned the ball over. We have better chemistry this year. The guys are having fun."

No. 20 Kansas State, No. 6 Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are the league's other undefeated teams.

Kansas State faces Missouri, Oklahoma State plays Kansas and the Red Raiders take on a Texas A&M team coming off two straight losses in games where it had double-digit leads at halftime.

Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville knows his young team has grown this season, but isn't sure just how much. The Red Raiders are coming off a 45-34 comeback win over Kansas.

"We've gotten better, I don't know if we've gotten good enough to compete with a lot of these top teams that we're getting ready to play," he said. "I think our guys have a lot of confidence."

IN THEIR SHOES: Oklahoma State Mike Gundy spent part of his off week as a guest on ESPN's college football telecast. He spent most of Saturday in the studio with ESPN's college crew providing commentary during halftimes and other breaks.

He was ecstatic to have a chance to give the Cowboys extra television exposure, though he missed spending time with his family on a Saturday when his team wasn't playing.

"I couldn't put a number on what that would be worth from our standpoint, marketing for not only the football program, but for Oklahoma State University," he said.

He enjoyed the gig, but don't look for Gundy to try to move into the arena full time when his coaching career is done.

"When I watch them I have a greater respect ... it isn't easy to do what those guys do," he said of the ESPN personalities he worked with. "I don't know that I have a lot of interest in that, but it was a great experience. "

HOW GOOD IS GRIFFIN?: Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham filled in for coach Paul Rhoads on the weekly Big 12 coaches call on Monday because of a scheduling conflict, and spent most of his time raving about Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The Cyclones face Baylor this week after losing to the Longhorns last Saturday. The Bears are coming off a one-point loss to Kansas State.

"He's a great, great athlete standing back there," Burnham said. "He's just got great touch. He knows where he wants to go with the ball and he does a good job of getting it there. "

Griffin is off to a great start this season and has thrown for 1,308 yards and 18 touchdowns with an 82.3 percent completion mark. His only interception of the season came last week and set up Kansas State's game-winning field goal.

Burnham said he can't remember the last time he saw a quarterback who could throw the way Griffin does.

"It just looks like he's throwing it to a spot and those wide receivers run to the football," Burnham said. "That's a deadly combination for any defense to have to face. He's got a tremendous arm. We were watching him (on film) and he threw a ball off his back foot 65 yards down the field. That tells you something about what the strength of his arm is."

Baylor coach Art Briles thinks Griffin's success this season is partly because it's the first time he's been able to play in consecutive seasons after he suffered a season-ending knee injury early in 2009.

"This is really the first time he's played back-to-back years," Briles said. "So just being able to be out on a consistent basis is one thing, along with experience. Now he's developed a lot of experience."

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