Stoops: Strength of schedule why Sooners still at No. 2 in BCS

Updated: November 16, 2004, 3:34 AM ET
Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. -- Even Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gets influenced by the BCS standings.

Stoops spent Monday crediting the Sooners' No. 2 spot in the new Bowl Championship Series standings to strength of schedule and regretting the perception that Oklahoma tried to run up the score against Nebraska in an effort to gain a few precious votes.

The Sooners maintained the second spot in the rankings behind top-rated Southern California. But No. 3 Auburn cut the Sooners' lead in half, from .0567 points last week to .0271 this week.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings will play in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 for the national title.

The race became tighter after Oklahoma beat Nebraska 30-3 and Auburn defeated Georgia 24-6, and voters in The Associated Press' poll moved Auburn into a tie with the Sooners at No. 2. Still, the computer rankings kept Oklahoma the top team in the nation, even ahead of BCS No. 1 Southern California.

The BCS became an issue on Saturday when the Sooners kept their starters in the game and decided not to kick a field goal on fourth down in the final minute, apparently looking for more points.

In retrospect, Stoops said he probably should have acted differently.

"In the heat of the game, I got caught unfortunately between sportsmanship and BCS points and in my mind probably chose the wrong one because I do believe in sportsmanship," Stoops said.

On Monday, Stoops pointed to the Sooners' schedule as the reason they came on top of the computer rankings.

"I guess our schedule has been strong and that's helping us," he said.

Oklahoma's schedule includes wins against Bowling Green, currently ranked 25th, as well as Oregon of the Pac-10. Auburn's nonconference schedule included Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech and Division I-AA The Citadel.

Running back Kejuan Jones said the Sooners are in a quandary. When Oklahoma was blowing teams out last season, experts deemed the Big 12 weak. Now, that the Sooners are winning by a smaller margin, they, not the conference, are regarded as weaker.

"They're not going to ever be satisfied by the way we win," Jones said.

Some Sooners players have said they didn't fully understand how the BCS worked, but just hoped that if they finished the season undefeated they'd get a shot at the national championship.

The Trojans, Sooners and Tigers are all 10-0. Each has two games left and one loss by any of them would help resolve what could be another BCS problem.

"I think as a team we're just fed up with the BCS stuff," Jones said. "We just want to go out and play as hard as we can and get the victories as best as we can."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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