The Norman Transcript

December 2, 2013

Sooners refuse to place themselves in role of spoiler

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — In five days, Oklahoma will play a game where it cannot win a championship or lose one. The Big 12 Conference race is down to three teams and the Sooners are in fourth place.

However, spoiler is a dirty word around the Switzer Center as they prepare to face No. 6 Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. Saturday at Pickens Stadium.

“That may be the lowest form of motivation that a competitor may have,” OU coach Bob Stoops said Monday. “So that has nothing to do with how we approach the game whatsoever. That’s a very low form of motivation.”

The 18th-ranked Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) spent most of Monday talking up the importance of winning against their in-state rival and the growth of the Bedlam rivalry over the years.

“We’re OU and they’re OSU, so I wouldn’t call it a spoiler role,” safety Gabe Lynn said. “They’re a good team.

Truth is spoiler is not a role the Sooners are used to being or one that they get any type of enjoyment from. Saturday’s game will mark the first time since 2009 that OU enters the game without a chance to win the Big 12 Conference title.

Stoops admitted Monday he’d love to trade spots with OSU for the week.

“There’s no denying that. So in the end, sure, we’ve done our deal, but today is today and that’s all I can think about is what we want to do this week,” he said. “Now, you want to ask me whenever I’m retired and there’s a certain point of, period of time you want to talk about, sure. But I’m in the moment right now, so there’s, this is what you want right now.”

But that is unattainable. OU had its shot. The losses to Texas and Baylor, who the Cowboys have beaten in their last two games, kicked it out of contention.

But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a value in Bedlam. The Sooners are expected to win every time the ball goes off from the tee.

“We don’t see ourselves as an underdog in this game,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “Obviously we realize they’re ranked higher than us and they’re favored when it comes to Vegas and all that stuff, but we’re still Oklahoma and we’ve done a lot of special things around here for a long time.”

One of those things is beating Oklahoma State in nine of the last 10 games. The only loss in that span, however, was the last time the Cowboys entered the game with a Big 12 title at stake in 2011. They rolled through the Sooners, 44-10, in 2011.

Traditionally, it’s OU that has the weight of a conference title on its shoulder. The circumstances have changed because of it. The importance of winning has not.

“It’s a big game for us, but honestly every week is a big game for us. I mean, we’re at the University of Oklahoma. We’re expected to win day in and day out,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “We’ve gotta come prepared. We’re gonna get their best shot. They’re really hot. They’re feeling good about themselves, so we’ve gotta come ready.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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