Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: 2016 Bedlam rivalry game to decide Big 12
Beginning next college football season, the Big 12 will have a conference championship game again.
It will be played on the same weekend when every other major conference plays its title games in a neutral site at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
But for most of the last few years, the conference has had a de facto title game to end the season when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have faced off.
The Bedlam games that have determined the conference title, though, have been in Stillwater.
This week, Oklahoma gets a chance to win a Big 12 Championship at home when it hosts Oklahoma State.
“It means a lot more,” offensive tackle Orlando Brown said of the opportunity to win a title at home. “I think it means a lot more to this team. I think it means more to Coach (Bob) Stoops. We’ve never had an opportunity to play here for a Big 12 championship. Oklahoma State is a great team. We’re gonna have to do what we have to do to prepare ourselves to get that Big 12 Championship.”
Since Nebraska ceased to be an every-year opponent for the Sooners, Oklahoma State has become their regular closing game.
The teams have played on the last weekend of November or the first weekend of December in each of the last 12 seasons and 16 times overall in Stoops’ now 18 years.
“I’m excited to see how loud the stadium’s going to get,” linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said.
Oklahoma started the season with aspirations of making it back to the College Football Playoff but losses to Houston and Ohio State in non-conference play made that doubtful.
The Sooners climbed back into the hunt after winning their first eight conference games but last week’s results, especially with Washington making the Pac-12 title game and Ohio State beating Michigan but failing to make the Big Ten title game, made it increasingly unlikely that that would happen.
Stoops said it hasn’t been hard for his team to maintain its focus after their early struggles or not to treat the conference title as a consolation prize.
“The Big 12 Championship, to me, is always your primary goal to start with because it’s not easy to do and I mean any conference champion,” Stoops said. “It was that way when I was at Florida. That was where it all began. Same with K-State. To win that game was really special and never a consolation. It’s what everybody is striving for first and then if you can be a national champion beyond it, sure, then that just adds to it.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
–WR Dede Westbrook has more receiving touchdowns in the last eight games (15) than all but three FBS receivers do in their entire seasons.
–CB Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma’s top secondary player this year, had two interceptions last season against the Cowboys, returning one for a touchdown.
–RB Joe Mixon has averaged 6.8 yards per carry during his two seasons for the Sooners. He ranks second in the country in all-purpose yards.
–ILB Jordan Evans has returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns, including one two weeks ago against West Virginia.
–QB Baker Mayfield has 19 completions this season for 40 or more yards, behind only Toledo’s Logan Woodside (21) and Penn State’s Trace McSorley (20).
By The Sports Xchange