Sooners stand between Cowboys and Big 12 title
No. 6 Oklahoma State has come a long, long way from its head-scratching loss to West Virginia.
The preseason Big 12 favorite is one win from its second league championship in the last three years. A victory would give the Cowboys a share of the title with the winner of the game between No. 9 Baylor and No. 23 Texas. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) would be set for a top BCS game as well.
That win, however, will need to come at home Saturday in the annual Bedlam rivalry game against No. 18 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12).
”It doesn’t get any bigger than this, especially for me being from Oklahoma,” said senior defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, preparing for the last home game of his college career. ”I grew up in Tulsa watching this game. As a team, we know this means a lot. Every week for us has been a big game, and it’s all led up to the biggest game. It feels really good knowing that all the work we’ve put into it so far is coming out and that the chance is actually here.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose younger brother Cale has served as Oklahoma’s running backs coach since 1999, seems to be downplaying the identity of the opponent while concentrating on preparing his players for a talented adversary.
”It’s the same as it has been for a long time, for me,” said Gundy, who is 1-7 against the Sooners as a head coach, with the victory sewing up the program’s sole Big 12 championship in 2011. ”The difference in this game and some other rivalries across the country is that we don’t have professional football in this state, but just about every game we play now is a big game if we want to get to the next one.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops also is far less interested in who his Sooners are playing Saturday than the fact that it is a big game against a very good team.
”I don’t look at the other team,” Stoops said. ”You guys do. That has nothing to do with us. All I look at is our season and our team and what improves us, end of story. I have no thought on the other team, whether it’s Oklahoma State or anyone else.”
After a disappointing 30-21 loss at West Virginia back on Sept. 28, the Cowboys have pretty much rolled, capped by a 49-17 triumph over then-No. 3 Baylor on Nov. 23.
Oklahoma State’s players, especially those who are natives of the state and some with former high school teammates on the Sooners, don’t want to get too caught up in the Bedlam excitement. They know what is at stake.
”I know that it’s right in our grasp, but I know that without preparation and without being focused and having everybody on the same page, it could easily slip away,” senior safety Daytawion Lowe said. ”I know both teams are going to bring their `A’ game.”