Sooners hope to keep title hopes alive vs. A&M

Preview and news and notes for this weekends Big 12 South showdown between the Sooners and Aggies

The stretch run in here.

After their 58-0 win over Tulsa last weekend in Norman, No. 3 ranked Oklahoma (8-1, 4-1) returns to Big 12 conference play this Saturday with a pivotal Big 12 South matchup against Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2).

With three games to go, the Sooners are in the drivers seat and control their own destiny toward a possible Big 12 Championship game berth set for next month at Texas Stadium in Dallas.

OU's road to Dalls starts this Saturday with Texas A&M, and believe it or not, after suffering a shutout loss at the hands of Texas Tech in Lubbock last week, the Aggies can still stake the claim that they control their own destiny in the Big 12 South. And Texas A&M Head Coach R.C Slocum is doing just that.
"Well, we have a situation where we are playing two very good teams in the last two weeks of the season and we're still control our own destiny in this race," said Slocum of playing Oklahoma and Texas in their final two games.

"Oklahoma is in no better of a situation than us, because they still have to win all of their games if they want to represent the South Division. Texas could win the rest of their games and still not be the South Champion, unless we beat Oklahoma. So in my mind everyone is in a tough situation. If we go up there and win this weekend then things will get really exciting around here come Thanksgiving."

The Aggies are coming into Norman after getting shutout last weekend by Texas Tech. It was the first time the Texas A&M offense has been shut out since a 24-0 loss to Penn State in the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

Several key injuries have forced A&M to play young players at several key positions for an offense that is only averaging 22.6 points per game.

"They're more balanced this year — run and pass," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops of the Aggies who average 214.9 yards a game through the air and 183.5 on the ground. "They've emphasized and worked their run game. Last year I thought they were a little bit more open than they are this year, though they could still throw it around pretty good, they still are working the run game maybe a little bit more than last year."

A&M's offense starts with junior quarterback Mark Farris (6-2, 206).

Since his arrival in College Station, the Aggies offense has gone from a rushing attack, to more of a balanced offensive attack. In fact, in just two seasons at A&M, Farris already has more 40- pass attempt games then any other other quarterback in the history of Texas A&M football, and is just the sixth A&M quarterback to reach the 4,000-yard career passing mark.

Farris has completed 177-of-290 passes (61 percent) so far this season for 1912 yards with eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

Two of the positions where the Aggies have been forced to use young players because of injuries are at wide receiver and running back.

To their credit, true freshmen Derek Farmer (5-11, 190) and Terrance Murphy (6-0, 176) have stepped up for the injured players and are having exceptional seasons. Farmer leads the team in rushing with 539 yards on 108 carries and Murphy is second on the team in receptions (30) and yards (480).

Notre Dame transfer Jamar Taylor (6-1, 203) is the Aggies leading receiver as he leads the team with 38 receptions and 481 yards.

Despite the average offensive performance so far this season, this year's version of A&M's "Wrecking Crew" defense has shown signs of returning to dominance, holding opponents to 16.9 points per game and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher yet this year.

"They're very aggressive," said Stoops on A&M's defense. "They make you work to move the ball on them."

The A&M defense is led by their outstanding linebacker foursome of Christian Rodriguez (6-3, 231), Jarrod Penright (6-2, 240), Brian Gamble (6-2, 225) and Jared Morris (6-3, 240). Penright leads the team in sacks with 9.5 and tackles-for-loss with 17. Morris and Gamble are second and third on the team in tackles with 66 and 58 respectively, while Rodriguez is second in sacks (5.5) and tackles-for-loss (12).

"They're very active," said Stoops of the Texas A&M linebackers. "They bring a lot of stunts inside-outside. Very well-coached and very sound at what they do. They make a lot of plays."

A&M also has an outstanding pair of run-stopping defensive tackles in Oklahoma City native Rocky Bernard (6-3, 289) and Ty Warren (6-4, 295). Bernard is fifth on the team in tackles with 58 while Warren third on the team in sacks (4) and fourth on the team in tackles-for-loss.

Junior defensive back Terrance Kiel (5-11, 201) leads the Aggies defense in tackles with 69 total.

Junior defensive Sammy Davis (6-0-, 183) leads a talented A&M secondary with 58 tackles and five interceptions. One of the Aggies other leaders in the secondary, Jay Brooks (5-10, 193), played sparingly last week against Texas Tech and is questionable for this Saturday's game against the Sooners.

"We recognize Texas A&M is a very good football team. They're always a well-disciplined, well-coached football team that defensively always plays well," said Stoops.

"We're anxious to go out and compete with them and are looking for our fans to be vocal and make a difference in the game."

The series
Oklahoma leads the all-time series against A&M, 10-9, including a 7-2 record against the Aggies in Norman. The Aggies had won three straight before Oklahoma's 51-6 win in Norman two years ago and last year's 35-31 win in College Station.

"They made plays. We made plays," said Stoops of last years classic. "They made a lot of good plays. They blocked a punt. We had a couple of interceptions on our end of the field. Fortunately, we were able in the end to make a few more to win. We get an interception and get a great run back by Torrance (Marshall). It was an exciting well-fought football game."

The coaches
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops is 28-6 in his third year at Oklahoma, including a 2-0 mark against R.C. Slocum and Texas A&M. Slocum is in his 13th season at A&M and is 116-39-2 overall and 4-3 against the Sooners.

The polls
Oklahoma is currently ranked third in the Associated Press poll and fourth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Oklahoma is No. 3 in this weeks version of the BCS. Texas A&M is unranked in the AP and Coaches poll, but currently sits at No. 26 in the BCS standings.

The streak
The Sooners boast the second-longest home winning streak in the nation. Oklahoma has won its last 18 games at Memorial Stadium and are 16-0 at home under Stoops. The game also marks the 17th consecutive sellout, which matches every game of Bob Stoops' tenure in Norman.

White to undergo season-ending surgery
Sophomore quarterback Jason White will miss the remainder of the 2001 season after having surgery to repair the torn ACL in his knee suffered during the Nebraska game. White will have surgery sometime next week.

Calmus Countdown
OU linebacker Rocky Calmus needs just seven tackles to reach 100 for the third consecutive season. And with 387 career tackles, the senior from Tulsa needs only 13 to be the fifth Sooner ever to reach the 400 tackle mark. Before he hits 400, Calmus will pass Brian Bosworth, who finished his career at OU with 395.

Other notables
Oklahoma is 8-1 in the month of November under Stoops...During Bob Stoops' tenure, OU has set 32 school records... For the year, Oklahoma's opponents have converted only 35-of-148 (23.6 percent) third down conversions, and after intermission, OU's opponents have converted just 14-of-73 third down conversions for 19.2 percent... OU lost four fumbles in their first three games, but have only lost four in the nine games since then... Thirteen different Sooners have caught passes this year and 15 different Sooners have scored touchdowns.

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