By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — November did not end the way Oklahoma needed it to. While it rested over the second to last weekend of regular season, its chance to at least share the Big 12 Conference title withered away with Texas’ victory over Texas Tech and Baylor’s win against TCU.
How will that affect the 18th-ranked Sooners as they prepare to face No. 6 Oklahoma State in the 108th edition of Bedlam at 11 a.m. Saturday at Pickens Stadium in Stillwater?
The Sooners haven’t faced their in-state rival since 2009 without the caveat of a Big 12 championship hanging in the balance. The Cowboys have it dangling in front of them. They’ve already beaten the Longhorns and Bears. Win Saturday, and the title — technically half of one — and the conference’s automatic berth in the Fiesta Bowl is theirs.
OU fully understood this was a possibility when it broke for Thanksgiving break last week. They were prepared to embrace the game either way.
“It’s huge,” OU cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, that’s all you hear about in the Tulsa area. Bragging rights is always nice to have if you win this game, so it’ll be a fun game.”
The spoiler role isn’t one the Sooners have filled many times. The last was in 2009. The Cowboys entered the game with a legitimate shot at an at-large berth in the Fiesta Bowl. OU won that game 27-0 and took a lot of pleasure in derailing the Cowboys’ BCS hopes.
They will relish the same chance this year.
“It’s one of the biggest rivalry games in the country. Going against an in-state rival, that’s gonna mean a lot to the fans. The fans mean a lot to us, so satisfying the fans means a lot to me,” defensive end Charles Tapper said.
The game always carries a lot of fan intrigue. However, the game doesn’t have the de facto Big 12 title game feel many hoped it would with the game moving to the end of the regular season again.
The Sooners still seem pegged for a berth in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio regardless of the outcome. Nonetheless, they still see a lot to gain by capping the regular season with a victory.
After all, it is a rivalry game and the Sooners have not lost to Texas and Oklahoma State in the same year since 1998. That was the year before Bob Stoops’ tenure as head coach began.
The approach hasn’t changed in 15 seasons even if OU’s Bedlam ante is lighter than usual.
“You know, you’re fighting every week the same. Win or lose, you’re constantly trying to win the next one, and that’s what we’re trying to do this week,” he said.