The eyes of the college football world will be focused in Stillwater as No. 8 Oklahoma battles No. 11 Oklahoma State in the annual in-state Bedlam game.
OU and OSU are tied with TCU and Iowa in first place in the Big 12 Conference with 4-1 league records. OU and OSU are both 7-1 overall as OU lost to ISU and OSU lost to TCU.
The winner of the Bedlam game will take a big step toward making the Big 12 Championship game and the loser could be close to mathematic elimination.
And the OU/OSU winner could take a jump in the polls and edge closer to a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff. Again, the loser Saturday will have virtually no shot at the CFP.
“It’s going to be great,” said Lincoln Riley, who has coached twice against OSU but this will be the first time as head coach. “It’s ready to be championship November and that’s our favorite time of year around here. We’re excited about it. The conference is really darn good – it’s the best conference in football right now top to bottom and you see it. There’s a lot of great teams in this league. It’s going to be a lot of fun. All of the eyes of the country are going to be on it and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.”
“We are playing the best team we have played up until this point,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday.
ESPN’s College GameDay will broadcast from the library lawn in the heart of the Oklahoma State campus Saturday, marking the sixth time that the Cowboys have hosted the popular national pre-game show. Saturday marks the fourth time in the last six Bedlam Series games played in Stillwater that College GameDay has been on hand.
College Football GameDay airs live from 8-11 a.m. CT on ESPN.
“It is a rivalry game,” said OU linebacker Caleb Kelly. “Those guys are balling this year. They have a good record and they are doing what they do. Coming into these games you see them a little bit different, I say this about Texas too, just because they are rivalry games so they are going to give their best effort no matter what. I think it is just a game where everyone is attentive in practice and doing what they need to do. I am looking forward to it. I look forward to every game, making more plays and having fun with my brothers.”
“It is going to be intense as always,” said OU defensive end D.J. Ward. “Every rep, every snap is going to be intense.”
Based on statistics, it should be a high-scoring game.
OSU and OU lead the Big 12 in scoring offense, pass offense, total offense, first downs and pass efficiency. Except for Kansas State, OU and OSU are the two top teams in rushing offense, too.
“I heard it was a big game just like the Red River Showdown,” said freshman receiver CeeDee Lamb. “Oklahoma State is a good team and we look forward to battling it out with them.”
“I’m very excited,” said OU running back Rodney Anderson. “It’ll be my first time to play them since being here. This is my third year and I haven’t played them yet, so I’m excited and I know they’ve got a great squad over there.”
OSU has 12 interceptions while OU has only four.
Last Saturday, OU looked to be in a high-scoring game with Texas Tech but the Sooners broke it open in the second half for a 49-27 victory.
“There’s a lot of things that give me confidence,” Riley said. “We’ve played in a lot of big games. We know the importance of this game to the conference, this game to the rivalry that it is. We know how good of a team Coach Gundy has up there this year and they’ve had good teams there for a long time. It’s going to be a good game and it’s been for the last several years. It’s a great rivalry and we’re looking forward to it.”
Oklahoma State appeared to have the game against West Virginia well in hand last week but a pair of turnovers led to two touchdowns for the Mountaineers. The Cowboys held on for a 50-39 win.
“We had way too many turnovers, mistakes on special teams and dropped snaps on the PAT that put us in a completely different game,” said Gundy. “We have to take care of the football and we have to be sound on special teams in order to improve and give ourselves a chance to win.”
OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph hit 20 of 34 pass attempts for 216 yards against WVU even though he missed a full week of practice due to an undisclosed injury. “I felt great today,” Rudolph said Saturday. “I was pretty confident. I think had it been my freshman year and I hadn’t practiced all week, I might have been a little mentally kind of out of it. I’m just really confident in our offense the way I can grasp it.”
Saturday’s game is the 112th contest between the Cowboys and the Sooners all-time, and the 108th consecutive year the teams have met. Oklahoma leads the series 85-19-7. Oklahoma holds a 38-7-5 advantage in Stillwater and has won the last two matchups.
Gundy is 2-10 against Oklahoma.
“I think there are a lot of great rivalries across the country but there’s one thing that is different in this state is that we don’t have pro football,” Gundy said. “The addition of the Thunder has been fantastic for this state but this week, everybody goes to work and you either wear orange or red. It’s fun. It’s always entertaining when both teams are successful.
“I think it’s fun for everybody in the state.”