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In-state implications: What obeying a fan’s shirt gets the Cowboys

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Brendon Evers

The TV cameras kept finding him. And it made sense why.

Amid the celebrating mass of Oklahoma State fans huddled together in the visitor’s section at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, one fan wearing orange was shown multiple times on the FOX broadcast as the final seconds away in the Cowboys victory over Texas Tech.

His shirt — orange with white lettering passing on a simple message —caught the camera’s attention.

“Beat OU”

OSU (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) has clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship. It’s a game the Cowboys have never played in before.

“It’s hard to get there,” coach Mike Gundy said. “Games are hard to win in college football and with the parity in this league… for these guys to find a way to get in that game is a big accomplishment.”

But before the Cowboys travel to Arlington to play for its first conference championship since 2011, they host Oklahoma.

So what does beating OU, and completing what the aforementioned fan’s shirt implored, get the Cowboys?

A new opponent, for one. And probably a game with a college football playoff bid on the line.

With a Bedlam win, something OSU has not gotten since 2014, the Cowboys would open the door for Baylor to join them in Arlington, Texas, to play for a conference title. If the Sooners lose and Baylor handles Texas Tech, it would result in the first Big 12 Championship game without OU since the game was reinstated in 2017.

The last time the crimson and cream has not been worn at a Big 12 championship game was in 2009 when Texas beat Nebraska.

But Oklahoma State has more to gain than the satisfaction of snapping their in-state rival’s dominance. For one thing, the Cowboys could gain another game.

With a win to close out the regular season, OSU would march into the conference championship game a one-loss team. No team has ever made the CFP with two losses.

A OSU Bedlam win would, in all likelihood, give OSU a chance to beat Baylor for its first College Football Playoff bid in school history.

Shirts aren’t printed for commonplace, unimportant and easy-to-accomplish thing, though. Beating OU is something the Cowboys have done just four times this millennium.

We got big things to accomplish this year,” defensive end Tyler Lacy said. 

After the Texas Tech game ended, sophomore quarterback Shane Illingworth tweeted a 2009 video of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. It features the NBA legend in a postgame press conference after moving to 2-0 in the NBA Finals saying monotonously, “What is there to be happy about? Job’s not finished.”

Senior receiver Tay Martin was less reserved commenting on Saturday in regard to the pivotal looming Bedlam game.

“I expect to whoop their ass, honestly,” Martin said. “I don’t go into a game thinking otherwise.”

If Martin and his fellow veterans beat the Sooners, the 2021 team remains in contention to reach the school’s first College Football Playoff. Martin’s quote may be one printed and sold on orange T-Shirts in Stillwater one day.

“We had several players that came back for the super senior season and that’s why they came back, and so you just hope that works out,” Gundy said.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com