White, Sooners clinch Big 12 title game berth

Oklahoma quarterback Jason White looks for a receiver during the second quarter in the Sooners' 41-3 Big 12 South clenching win over the Bears. White, who threw for 307 yards and four touchdown passes, passed former Sooner quarterback Josh Heupel for the all-time single season touchdown pass mark with 36. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. — Just how good is Oklahoma? Well, you know a team is having a sensational season when a 38 point win that clenches a division title is considered a below average performance.

That's what happened Saturday as the top-ranked and unbeaten Sooners clinched a berth in the Big 12 Championship game with their 41-3 rout of Baylor on Senior Day in Norman.

"I'll take it," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, who is now 54-9 at Oklahoma. "It puts us in a position to play in the Big 12 Championship game, which is our first and primary goal. I appreciate our players putting us in that position. We picked up another good solid win."

"I like the fact that nobody is jumping up and down in the locker room," Stoops continued. "We realize that we still have a lot we've got to keep pushing for. Even though we've earned a Big 12 South title, we're undefeated and next week will be a big game."

As disappointing as the final score may have been to some, it was another day at the office for Jason White, Mark Clayton and the Sooner defense. White, whose four touchdown passes pushed him past Josh Heupel for all-time single season mark at 36, completed 21 of his 38 pass attempts for 307 yards. Clayton posted his sixth 100-yard receiving game, and with that surpassed Antwone Savage as OU's all-time receiving yards leader. And the Oklahoma defense kept their opponent out of the end zone for the third straight game.

White came out slinging the ball early as the Sooners jumped on the Bears and delivered an early knockout punch with a 24 point first quarter spurt.

White found Brandon Jones for his first touchdown pass with a 25-yard strike to put the Sooners up 7-0 at the 11:10 mark of the first quarter. The senior from Tuttle then hooked up with his favorite target on OU's next drive with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Clayton to give the Sooners a 14-0 lead.

Trey DiCarlo booted a 36-yard field goal to give OU a 17-0 cushion with 1:26 to go in the first quarter, and then a minute and 22 second later White connected with Clayton again on a 9-yard touchdown pass to put OU up 24-0 with four seconds left in the first quarter. Clayton finished with six catches for 112 yards.

Baylor then capped an 18-play, 66-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal to cut OU's lead to 24-3 at the 6:35 mark of the second quarter. But White would later hit Will Peoples for a 19-yard TD pass with two minutes remaining in the half, and after a Matt McCoy interception, DiCarlo added a 20-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Sooners a 34-3 halftime edge.

But the scoring onslaught would end there, as the Sooners struggled to move the ball in the second half. Oklahoma only mustered 20 yards of total offense in the third quarter, and their only score in the second half came on a 1-yard run by Kejuan Jones with 7:46 to go in the fourth quarter.

"Overall, to build that kind of lead and the way he (White) was throwing the ball was just amazing," said Stoops on OU's first quarter outburst. "He really did come out and throw a bunch of strikes early."

"The receivers were getting open," said White, who was also sacked five times. "I was just doing my job getting the ball there. They make me look good. They caused some problems for us but those are easily fixable. That's something we will focus on this week."

Saturday was also an emotional day for OU's senior class. Fourteen seniors were honored before the game, and with Saturday's win over Baylor the class leaves Norman with a 47-4 record.

"This is a very special group of seniors," said Stoops. "We gave them all game balls after the game. A good number of those guys came here when we first arrived and trusted us. They set a great example with their work ethic and humility. They're a great example for our young guys to follow."

"It was definitely special," said senior defensive tackle Kory Klein, who was named as a Don Key Award recipient along with Renaldo Works before the game. "Seeing all the fans out there, they were awesome before the game. Then coming out on the field with our families and all the other seniors was special.Once the game started, we couldn't think about it. Late in the fourth quarter, I looked around and I tried to soak everything in. I won't be able to do it again so I tried to get a picture of what it looked like."

Senior defensive back Matt McCoy also went out in style. McCoy capped his final game on Owen Field with one interception and one fumble recovery.

"I think it's a game I will remember the rest of my life," said McCoy. "I wanted to go out and have a special Senior Day.It was a great experience."

Senior cornerback Derrick Strait also went out in style by breaking the record for career starts with his 50th in his final home game. The previous record of 49 was held by Jeff Ferguson.

And now, with the Big 12 South locked up and Senior Day behind them, the Sooners can focus on next weekend's regular season finale with high-powered Texas Tech in Lubbock.

"We have to be prepared because Texas Tech is a scoring machine," said Klein. "You can never count them out, especially if you are up on them in a big way. We'll be ready for their passing attack. We'll go down there with a good game plan, ready to go."

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