By Shehan Jeyarajah
While the season did not take the path many expected, it could end the way many predicted with Oklahoma State in the drivers seat for a Big 12 championship once again.
With a win over Oklahoma in the Bedlam rivalry game, the Cowboys can clinch the Big 12 title and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl for the second time in three seasons.
No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) looks to spoil No. 6 Oklahoma State’s Big 12 championship hopes and knock the Cowboys out of a BCS game on Saturday in The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Bedlam Series in Stillwater.
“The difference in this game and other rivalries across the country is that we don’t have professional football in this state,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Every game we play now is a big game if we want to get to the next one.”
After a bad loss against West Virginia to open Big 12 play, Oklahoma State has been lights out.
The Cowboys have outscored opponents 296-136 since that game, and won seven straight.
The quarterback duo of sophomore J.W Walsh and senior Clint Chelf has combined for 274.7 yards through the air per game. The running game also adds 169.5 yards per game. OSU averages 41.2 points per game, which is 11th in the country.
The Oklahoma State defense has allowed only 20.8 points per game in conference play, best in the Big 12. The opportunistic also leads the conference in turnover margin, having forced 24 turnovers on the season in 11 games.
The Sooners have struggled all season to move the ball through the air, ranking 100th in the nation with 186.1 yards passing per game.
Oklahoma’s running game has been one of the best in the Big 12, averaging 242.3 yards per game.
For the past two games, junior quarterback Blake Bell was benched in favor of freshman Trevor Knight.
Knight’s numbers haven’t been outstanding, but the Sooners have put up 48 and 41 points in the past two games. Both rank top two in scoring performances this season for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in total defense. The Sooners allow only 330.5 yards per game on the season. In wins, Oklahoma has held teams to a staggering 303.6 yards per game.
Oklahoma State is coming off of a 49-17 dismantling of No. 4 Baylor in Stillwater on Nov. 23 on national television. Chelf played arguably his best game at Oklahoma State with 370 yards passing, four all-purpose touchdowns and a 76 percent completion percentage.
The Sooners are coming off of a hard-fought 41-31 win over Kansas State in Manhattan on Nov. 23. Clay posted 200 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Knight added 253 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
In the last Bedlam matchup between these two teams, Oklahoma pulled out an overtime win over Oklahoma State behind 500 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Landry Jones. Chelf threw for 253 yards in that game.
With a win, Oklahoma State will clinch the Big 12 and earn a trip the Fiesta Bowl. The conference win will be shared with the winner of the Baylor-Texas game happening immediately afterwards. With a loss, Oklahoma State will miss out on the BCS.
“I think our team, in any situation, is always capable of winning and capable of playing well and doing well in this game or any other game,” Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops said. “I think our history speaks to that.”
The No. 17 Oklahoma Sooners will play the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys at 11 a.m. Saturday in Stillwater. The game will be nationally broadcast on ABC.