3:30 PM ET, November 24, 2007
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, NORMAN, OK
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Sam Bradford is ready to go and No. 10 Oklahoma has its sights set on the Big 12 championship game.
There's just this matter of an intense rival to deal with first.
Knocked out of the national championship race last week at Texas Tech, the Sooners (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) are all but assured of the Big 12 South title and a spot in the Dec. 1 conference championship after No. 13 Texas lost 38-30 to Texas A&M on Friday.
Oklahoma would likely hold the edge in a three-way tiebreaker with the Longhorns and Oklahoma State that would be based on the BCS rankings. Of course, that wouldn't be necessary if the Sooners beat the Cowboys (6-5, 4-3) on Saturday for the outright Big 12 South title.
In a series that predates Oklahoma's statehood 100 years ago, the Sooners hold the most lopsided edge among in-state rivals in the nation. Oklahoma claims 78 wins in the 101-game series, while Oklahoma State credits the Sooners with 77 victories.
But even since Bob Stoops arrived in Norman, the Cowboys have shown a propensity for pulling off an upset when it's least expected. In 2001 and 2002, Oklahoma State stunned top-five Oklahoma teams.
"It sticks around, win or lose, with you for a year," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "Obviously there's a lot on the line for us too, so that magnifies the matchup and the anticipation of it. It means a lot to a lot of people."
While the Sooners' leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, and the Cowboys' top receiver, Adarius Bowman, won't play because of knee injuries, a key development this week was Bradford's swift recovery from a concussion that sidelined him in the first quarter against Tech.
Stoops said it would take "unforeseen circumstances" to keep Bradford from playing in the so-called Bedlam rivalry that's usually the biggest sporting event in the state on an annual basis.
"When I was a fan, it was a real big deal to me, and it's one of our goals on our list as a team is to beat our in-state rival," said Sooners defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who's from Oklahoma City. "Right now, I'm not really thinking of Bedlam. I'm thinking that we have to win this if we want to clinch the Big 12 South."
Oklahoma State can wrap up a share of the Big 12 South title with a rare win in Norman.
"They're like a zillion-and-one or something at home. Obviously their record shows how they play at home," Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora said. "They've done a great job of that, so we know we've got to go in there and play well. That's the deal.
"Are they beatable? Yes."
Oklahoma carries a 53-2 record on Owen Field under Stoops, and the Cowboys are the only Big 12 team to win there in his nine seasons. The Sooners have a 17-game home winning streak.
"It's Bedlam. Those guys know what this game is all about," Fedora said. "They'll be excited, they'll be ready to play and it doesn't matter whether we're playing at home or on the road. They'll come ready to play."
Oklahoma State reached bowl eligibility last week for the fifth time in the past six seasons -- only the second time in school history that's happened, with Barry Sanders playing a role the first time. A win would cement a bowl berth in a crowded Big 12 field, and send the Cowboys to a more desirable destination. It would also give them one more regular-season win than last year.
"We haven't really been out of any game and we can compete with anybody. It's just a matter of shooting ourselves in the foot and not playing well and not finishing games," Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson said. "Definitely finishing 7-5 would feel a whole lot better than 6-6."
A Big 12 title game berth would be the Sooners' fifth in the past six years, but it would have to come without Murray, defensive end Alan Davis (concussion) and likely Big 12 sacks leader Auston English, who has missed the past two games with a hairline fracture in his right leg. He had a pin inserted in the leg last week.
"It starts with this game," McCoy said. "If we want to get to where we want to be, it starts with this game."
Top 25 Overview
If Oklahoma takes care of business and knocks off Oklahoma State, the Sooners head to the Big 12 title game. If the Cowboys win the Bedlam game, the Sooners will need a Texas loss to reach San Antonio.
|Avg Points Allowed||29.3||18.3|