Big 12 South title on the line in Bedlam
Oklahoma State and Oklahoma keep finding new ways to spice up their Bedlam rivalry.
A series that has been lopsided for most of its 106 years, the in-state showdown has taken on added importance in recent years as the Cowboys have joined the Sooners among the nation's most powerful programs.
For only the fourth time, it's Oklahoma State (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) that comes in with the higher ranking at No. 10. Oklahoma (9-2, 5-2) is ranked 14th and trying to prevent the Cowboys from winning their first Big 12 South title and instead earn their eighth.
''We've had some big ones around here. I'm not sure how you categorize if one's any bigger than the other, but this week is a big game,'' said Mike Gundy, who will be participating in his 20th Bedlam game - first as a player, then an assistant coach and now Oklahoma State's head coach.
''It's kind of hard to compare them to the rest, but they're all pretty big.''
It's the first time since 1984, when both teams were ranked in the top three, that Bedlam comes at the end of the year with such conference implications. Back then, No. 2 Oklahoma beat No. 3 Oklahoma State 24-14 to secure the Big Eight title.
''In order for us to play next week, we've got to take care of business this week,'' Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden said. ''We know that. Guys are going to be ready to go. I think guys are excited about the position we're in, and we've earned it. We've worked hard all year and put ourselves in the position to compete for the Big 12 South title.''
Although Gundy called this a rebuilding year at the start of the season, it has turned into the first 10-win regular season in school history. Oklahoma State has three national awards finalists - running back Kendall Hunter for the Doak Walker, kicker Dan Bailey for the Lou Groza and receiver Justin Blackmon for the Biletnikoff.
Blackmon, Hunter and Weeden could be considered long-shot candidates for the Heisman Trophy, as the leaders of the most productive offense in the nation with 552 yards per game. Blackmon leads the Bowl Subdivision with 156 yards receiving per game and 17 TDs while Hunter is fifth in rushing (132.8 ypg). Weeden's 3,780 yards passing are second in the FBS, and he has thrown 30 touchdown passes.
It will be a Saturday night showcase of two of the nation's top receivers, with Oklahoma having its own Biletnikoff Award finalist in Ryan Broyles - who initially committed to Oklahoma State before a change of heart on signing day.
''The plays are going to be called to benefit the team. It's not necessarily for a person to show out or anything like that,'' said Broyles, who has an FBS-best 106 catches for 1,309 yards and 12 TDs.
''When the balls go my way, I'll make the best out of them ... and I'm sure he's going to do the same on the other side.''
The Sooners, have won seven straight in the series, including last season when they were unranked and dashed any hopes of the No. 11 Cowboys getting an at-large BCS bid with a 27-0 shutout in Norman. Oklahoma leads the all-time series 80-17-7 and also had to forfeit one other victory.
This year's Cowboys are undaunted by history, though, having already secured the team's first wins at Texas and Texas Tech since 1944 during a record-breaking season.
''We still have a lot ahead of us, and we can still make more history and go in the record books for a lot more things,'' cornerback Andrew McGee said.
Oklahoma snapped a four-game losing streak in conference road games with a 53-24 rout of Baylor last week and would likely claim the South title with a victory. A tiebreaker between the Bedlam rivals and Texas A&M (9-3, 6-2) would come down to the BCS standings. Oklahoma State is currently ninth, with Oklahoma 13th and A&M 17th.
''The reason this one's so big is because we won the other big ones leading up to this one,'' Weeden said. ''It makes this one just a little bit bigger because it's for the whole enchilada.''