Oklahoma State might be able to do something rare Saturday: all but eliminate rival Oklahoma from the Big 12 title race.
“We all know what this game means to us and what’s at stake here,” Cowboys defensive lineman Trace Ford said. “The locker room all week has been filled with energy and practice has definitely been more intense.”
On most occasions, the victor of Bedlam has either won the regular-season title or clinched a birth to the Big 12 title game. With the matchup coming earlier in the season and Oklahoma at 4-2 in the conference, OSU can hit them with a third loss, leaving the Sooners title hopes on life support.
The Cowboys haven’t won a Bedlam matchup since 2014, which means none of the current players have ever beaten OU.
“That’s something that’s in the back of my mind,” OSU receiver Dillon Stoner said. “It adds more to it for me, and the guys that have been around here for a while.”
This year’s matchup is also different with OSU entering higher than OU in the rankings for the first time since 2013. Overall, the Sooners have won 13 of 15 in the series during the Mike Gundy era.
The narrative is flipped, but the coaches, in particular, aren’t focusing much on that.
“It’s a non-factor; it doesn’t make a difference what anybody is ranked when you go into the game,” Gundy said. “We don’t pay much attention to it, but I’m sure the players do.”
OU has won a lot of close Bedlam games between two good teams, but Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said that’s not something that even translates between seasons.
“I feel fortunate that we’ve been able to come out with the upper hand, but that’s not gonna mean anything at 6:30 on Saturday,” Riley said.
The players feel a bit differently.
“We know how much is on the line, which makes it that much more exciting,” Stoner said. “Regardless of the scenario we're at, at the time, we know this is a big game that we have to be ready for."
While OSU is in better position entering the game, the Sooners' Bedlam domination, long-term and recent, serves as a motivator for the Cowboys.
“OU’s been kicking my butt since I stepped on campus, and finally this year I feel like we’re gonna shake things up around here,” cornerback Rodarius Williams said.
“I feel like this is gonna be the year.”