ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew didn’t have to go very far between stops this week. After setting up shop in Norman over the weekend for the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game, it made the 80-mile trek north up I-35 and then east to Stillwater.
There’s a fairly important game on tap there this Saturday, as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State close out the regular season in the 103rd renewal of Bedlam football. It’s a showdown that carries all sorts of major implications, including those of the national championship variety.
With a victory, the third-ranked Sooners would almost certainly jump over Texas into second place in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
That would not only make OU the South Division representative in the Big 12 title game, but put the Sooners on course for a national title shot.
Oklahoma will go into the contest as a seven-point favorite, but don’t think for a second Oklahoma State doesn’t have plenty of motivation working in its corner. While their Big 12 and national title aspirations ended with a loss in Lubbock, Texas, on Nov. 8, a victory over their rivals from Norman would give the Cowboys 10 regular-season wins for the first time ever.
More importantly, OSU could secure a spot on the major bowl invitation list with an impressive win against the Sooners. This group of Pokes is not just out to play spoiler this season ” there are some legitimate team goals still hinging on the Bedlam outcome.
Saturday’s battle marks the first time the two schools have met where both come in with at least nine wins. The Cowboys will also be attempting to finish off a perfect 7-0 home record for the first time in school history.
Oklahoma owns a huge overall advantage in the all-time series ” at 78-17-7 ” but five of those OSU victories have come since 1995, including two since Bob Stoops took over at OU in 1999.
The Sooners fully expect their visit to revamped Boone Pickens Stadium to be anything but hospitable. OU has gone 3-1 at Stillwater during the Stoops’ era, but those three wins have come by a combined total of 14 points.
“We can celebrate the win (Nov. 22), but come (Nov. 23), we’ve got to start thinking about (OSU),” said OU quarterback Sam Bradford, after leading the Sooners to a 65-21 annihilation of Texas Tech over the weekend.
Bradford and company know they will have their hands full with a talented OSU squad when they collide in front of a national TV audience and thousands of screaming Cowboy fans. Emotions will be running high on senior night for the Pokes, who would like nothing better than to rearrange the Sooners’ pending postseason itinerary.
Meanwhile, Stoops’ squad is focused on taking care of business in Stillwater, much like it has over the five-game stretch since losing to Texas and falling out of the No. 1 spot in the national rankings back on Oct. 11. During that span, OU has been basically unstoppable while averaging almost 60 points a game.
Oklahoma State is coming off of a bye week, so you can bet the Pokes have been focused on the game for a while now. To have a legitimate chance to beat the Sooners, OSU will no doubt need big games from quarterback Zac Robinson and star receiver Dez Bryant.
But just like in the OU-Texas Tech showdown, this weekend’s game will ultimately come down to which team plays the better defense. Everyone knows OSU can score some points, but the Cowboys’ greatest challenge will be finding a way to slow down Bradford and the Sooners.
It’s all fairly simple: Oklahoma’s road to the Big 12 title and the national championship runs directly through the middle of Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. OSU is hoping to provide a roadblock. “Jay C. Upchurch