Oklahoma St sheds spoiler label for Bedlam game
For Oklahoma State, the annual showdown with Oklahoma has usually had Big 12 championship implications over the past decade.
The Cowboys have shelved the role as spoiler, however: This year, it's Oklahoma State's turn to play with everything on the line.
The 10th-ranked Cowboys (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) head into Saturday night's Bedlam game against No. 14 Oklahoma (9-2, 5-2) with a one-game lead in the Big 12 South standings. They can clinch their first berth in the conference championship game with a victory and are even a slim favorite for a change.
Still, some of OSU's players are sticking with the same frame of mind that's helped them win 10 games in the regular season for the first time in school history during what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
''I like to think that we're the underdogs because I like being the underdogs and I like to do things that people didn't think we could do. Beating OU is definitely one of those things,'' cornerback Andrew McGee said Monday.
''I like to think that we are, even though we have the better record and we're on top of the Big 12 South. I still like that David and Goliath type of feeling.''
Oklahoma has certainly been the Goliath, winning 80 of the 104 games in the series and seven in a row. Even when Oklahoma State was ranked 11th and had a chance to earn an at-large BCS berth last season, the Sooners were favored by more than a touchdown before beating the Cowboys 27-0 in Norman.
''I look at it as even, but if I had to say, I believe being the underdog is all right because we understand that Oklahoma State is the younger brother of OU,'' safety Markelle Martin said. ''So, there's always that one time you feel that if you can get your older brother, you can get that one fight, that's all you need to gain respect, to gain the confidence that you need.''
Oklahoma State enters as the higher ranked team for only the fourth time in series history and most recently beat the Sooners in 2001 and 2002. The first time, it knocked Oklahoma out of the Big 12 and national championship picture. The following year, the Sooners - who had been ranked No. 3 - still won the Big 12 title the following week but had any chances at the national championship snuffed out.
In the years when the Bedlam game has been the regular-season finale, the Cowboys have never made it to the rivalry with a chance to play for the Big 12 title. The closest they came was in 2007, when they could have forced a three-way tie for the South title but would have lost out in the tiebreaker.
''We don't even really care. you can call us the underdog, the favorite. It doesn't really matter,'' defensive end Richetti Jones said. ''We're going to go out and play football. They picked us to be last in the Big 12 at the beginning of the season, so it really doesn't matter what they pick or say. We've got to go out there and play football and do what we do best.''
Oklahoma needs a win in Stillwater to reach the Big 12 title game for the eighth time and pursue a seventh championship. The Sooners needed wins in each of their last two trips to Stillwater to reach the title game, which they eventually won.
''We've actually been in this situation nine of the last 11 years, so our guys need to embrace it and that's what we've been doing around here,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. ''Hopefully we can do it again.''
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said it's hard to differentiate between all of the high-stakes Bedlam games over the years, but ''they're all pretty big.'' This one ranks among the most important, with something more than bragging rights on the line for both teams.
''This is the high-school rivalry game, whatever you want to call it: the Clash of the Titans, the big kid on the block,'' Jones said, also suggesting it could be ''the Oklahoma Super Bowl.''
''This is it. Whatever label you want to put on it, this is it.''
When asked which team fits the ''big kid on the block description'' this year, he said: ''We will see after Saturday.''