The Norman Transcript

Community Sports

November 30, 2011

Bedlam: One game, one title

Conference title, bragging rights riding on rivalry

NORMAN — One game, one title. It’s the tag line the Big 12 officials would love to attach to promos for a conference championship game, if they had one.

But they did get the next best thing. It got in-state rivals No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma playing one game for the Big 12 championship and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

“I know it is going to be even more hectic this year because it is for the championship,” OU safety Tony Jefferson said. “I know both teams are going to go in firing out and there are going to be a lot of emotions.”

The Sooners have history on their side entering Saturday’s Bedlam matchup in Stillwater. They lead the all-time series 82-16-7 and haven’t lost to the Pokes since 2002. Even worse for OSU is that Oklahoma has more wins by shutouts, 28, than OSU has total victories.

But the Cowboys are more than likely coming in with the better team. A double-overtime loss to Iowa State the day after the tragic deaths of the women’s basketball coaches is the only thing keeping them from being undefeated and playing for a spot in their first BCS championship game.

While technically OSU still has a slim chance to get there with a Bedlam win, it’s not likely if voters in the human polls keep up their love affair with the SEC.

Regardless, Oklahoma State has a lot riding on winning the annual confrontation with Oklahoma. It would be its first conference title in the program’s history. Even though they have claimed a piece of it this year already, some people have a different point of view.

“What happened to the one true champion that was promoted when I was down there for Big 12 media day?” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Isn’t that what everyone talked about? Wasn’t that the whole promotion? So, that isn’t the case now? Well I don’t know. All I know is that’s what was told, as if the other seven [championships] that we had won weren’t true. We had to play for them. In the end, that’s all I heard. One true champion. So that’s what was trumpeted. That means if they [Oklahoma State] win, they are the champions. If we win, we are since we would have beaten K-State and them. It’s pretty simple math to me.”

For the Sooners, this game is more about character. Despite racking up nine wins, this has been an underachieving season. They began the year as the No. 1 team in the nation and were thought to have an easy path to the national title game. The one close game was expected to come at Bedlam.

However, stunning loses to Texas Tech and Baylor knocked OU out of title contention. Twice. Season ending injuries to Ryan Broyles and Dominique Whaley have made the offense a shell of what it was and its defense is being picked on like a red headed kid with freckles during recess.

Yet, the Sooners don’t seem to be lacking for confidence.

“It’s going to be real exciting,” Oklahoma’s Frank Alexander said. “You’re always looking forward to this game. Last game of the regular season. You just want to go out there with a win. For me and the rest of the team we want to be able to say ‘We won a Big 12 championship too.’ It’s going to be real important for us to come out and be hitting on every cylinder this next week.”

The Sooners have a chance to do two important things at Bedlam. First, salvage what’s left of their season. Even though a national title game is out of the question, another BCS game and Big 12 title are huge rewards.

But more importantly, the Sooners have an opportunity to ravage the Pokes year, again. When it comes to Bedlam, that is the most important thing for both squads.

“I mean this is big, this is Bedlam, this is for the Big 12 title,” OU’s DeJuan Miller said. “That’s really enough said, there’s nothing really else to say. It’s for a trip to a BCS Bowl. OSU is playing for their first BCS appearance ever in their school’s history. So this is definitely a huge game. This would definitely be a great way to go out as a senior.”

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