Oklahoma’s national football title chances renewed

Monday, October 15, 2007 | 9:29 p.m. CDT; updated 10:57 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says he is only thinking about the Sooners' next game, not the team's national title chances.

Oklahoma fans roared during the second half of its game against MU Saturday, even though nothing remarkable was happening on the field at the time.

But something remarkable had occurred in Lexington, Ky. In its first game as the nation’s top team, LSU fell to Kentucky 43-37 in triple overtime. The Tigers’ national title dreams were as fleeting as a Mardi Gras celebration.


There’s one thing that until now has never happened to Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State. The first AP college football poll was released almost 71 years ago on Oct. 19, 1936, but not until now have the Jayhawks, Tigers and Wildcats all been ranked at the same time. Kansas and Missouri are tied at No. 15 and Kansas State is at No. 25.

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The cheering didn’t stop in Norman. Oregon State defeated then-No. 2 California 31-28 shortly after the Sooners’ victory. A national title for OU seemed plausible again only two weeks after their upset loss to Colorado.

But fans in Norman will still have to cheer against LSU as well as three other teams. The No. 4 Sooners are now ahead of No. 5 LSU in both the AP and USA Today coaches’ polls. But their positions are flipped in the official rankings: the initial standings for the Bowl Championship Series. Ohio State is first, followed by South Florida and Boston College.

Fans might be looking ahead, but OU coach Bob Stoops is only focused on Iowa State, his team’s next opponent.

“It doesn’t matter right now,” Stoops said during the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference.

It will, however, by the end of November. To have a chance to play for the national championship, the Sooners need to win the rest of their games while having two teams ahead of them lose. That could happen as early as this week in the wacky wonderland of college football with No. 18/19 Auburn playing at LSU and South Florida traveling to Rutgers.

Ohio State is used to playing in January, of course, but the Bulls (of South Florida, not Chicago) and the Eagles (of Boston College, not Philadelphia) are more familiar with December’s obscure bowl games. Last year, the Bulls beat East Carolina 24-7 in the Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. The Eagles edged Navy 25-24 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.

While fans might be surprised with the BCS standings, coaches aren’t. When Kansas beat South Florida 13-7 last season, Kansas coach Mark Mangino was impressed.

“They have a very good defensive front and a couple of linebackers that will be playing on Sundays — no questions asked. That’s a great football team in South Florida, especially on defense,” he said after that game.

He continued his praise during Monday’s teleconference.

“They deserve to be ranked pretty high,” he said.

But Mangino couldn’t help a sportswriter trying to make sense of records and results that are as undecipherable the Rosetta Stone.

“Should they be ahead of you guys?” asked Dennis Dodd, a columnist for

The two laughed. “You and I are friends. We’re not going to go down that road,” Mangino replied.

INJURY UPDATE: Tailback Tony Temple is probable for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, coach Gary Pinkel said Monday. Temple didn’t play against Oklahoma because of the sprained ankle he suffered against Nebraska.

“I’d be very disappointed if he wasn’t ready to play,” Pinkel said.

Like any injured player without a chance to take the field, Temple wasn’t allowed to travel with the team, Pinkel said.

Tight end Chase Coffman injured his knee and ankle against Oklahoma, but Pinkel said he expects Coffman “without question to play” Saturday.

KU GETS NAP TIME: Saturday’s Kansas-Baylor game resembled a stop-and-start Wimbledon match in rainy London. Thunderstorms forced two delays totaling more than two hours in Lawrence, Kan. Mangino made sure his players were loose. He let his them take their pads off, nap, listen to their iPods or read while they waited one hour, 45 minutes for the game to start. Teams were forced back to their locker rooms before halftime because of another delay.

Mangino was relaxed as well.

“(I was) walking with my hands in my pockets up and down the aisles of the locker room,” Mangino said. “I wasn’t giving any speeches or anything like that.”

TIME FOR IOWA STATE GAME SET: The Tigers will take on Iowa State at 1 p.m. Oct. 27 at Faurot Field. The game will not be televised.

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