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Bears hope to sweeten bowl bid

Nov. 19, 2010

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Makenzie Mason | Lariat Photographer
No. 23 running back Jay Finley avoids a Texas A&M defender during the game last Saturday.

Matt Larsen
Sports Writer

They may be out of the hunt for a Big 12 championship, but after their best season since joining the Big 12, the Bears will be playing for more than just pride when they host No. 16 Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.

"Our deal is to fight to the finish and win," head coach Art Briles said. "Oklahoma, in the last ten years, maybe four universities have done better than they have on a national level. It's what brings energy to the table because you have an opportunity to do something."

That something on a conference scale would be to simultaneously cut the legs out from under a hungry OU squad and a rolling Texas A&M team in their bids to win the Big 12 South. The Sooners must win out and the Aggies need the Sooners to beat Oklahoma State to force a three-way tie with the Cowboys.

Beyond playing the spoiler role, Baylor also brings the question of bowl destination to the Floyd Casey turf. The Bears might travel down the road to the Texas Bowl, but a win over OU might send them out to the West Coast for the Holiday Bowl or another bowl game entirely.

But Houston and San Diego are far-off thoughts for the Bears because their season-long mentality has been that each game is a season of its own. Their last regular season match-up will be no different.

"We've got to try and go out with a bang; that's all we can do," senior running back Jay Finley said. "We want to finish strong and build a little more momentum going into the bowl game. But like we say, we're taking it a game at a time."

The fifth-year back has as much to play for as anyone on senior day at Floyd Casey, where he ran past the 1,000-yard mark for the season last Saturday against Texas A&M.

The Bears will need his services to bolster an offense that hopes to outscore a balanced Sooner attack.

Like the A&M squad the Bears faced last week, the Sooners enter the game having thrown the ball just 10 more times than they have rushed this season.

Unlike the Aggies, Oklahoma boasts a couple more big names that it looks to for most of its production.

Running back Demarco Murray gets the heaping plate of carries and averages 91 yards a game with 13 touchdowns.

Murray is also the second-most- targeted receiver behind Maxwell-finalist wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who leads the nation in receptions per game and picks up 120 yards a game.

Broyles is on the receiving end of quarterback Landry Jones' passes. Jones averages 316 yards a game and sits tied with Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden for most touchdown passes in the Big 12.

A number of those touchdown passes have come thanks to a fast-paced style.

"I expect a really high up-tempo team," freshman linebacker Chris McAllister said. "I think they run about 85 plays a game. We're going to have to be ready for it."

On the defensive side, OU is balanced as well, giving up just one more touchdown through the air than on the ground this season, is are ranked the fourth best defense in the conference.

"They're big," Finley said. "They've got a D-line and linebackers; that's what I usually look at. They play well, move well."

Quarterback Robert Griffin believes he saw a very similar defense a couple weeks ago when they snatched a precious road win.

"The only difference between their defense and the Texas defense is that Texas is a little bit smaller, but quicker," Griffin said.

"Oklahoma brings both size and speed. It will be a challenge, but we've got weapons on our offense so it will be a challenge for them as well. We've got to go in there, scheme them up and get ready to play."