MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU & OSU Sports

December 3, 2011

One true champion will be crowned

STILLWATER — One true champion was the Big 12’s phrase of the week during the preseason football media days in Dallas.

Conference officials tried to put a positive spin on the 10-team league and its round-robin, every team plays each other format.

It was as if conference officials were admitting a 12-team league with a championship game had been a terrible idea.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy actually did think divisions and conference title game were a little wacky. The championship game actually kept teams from reaching the national title game, he said.

So Gundy agrees with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops that today’s Bedlam game is winner take all.

“I think you have one champion. You have a round-robin format. Everybody has competed against each other. I tend to agree with that,” Gundy said. “When we start out each year our goal is to win a conference championship and hope we have an opportunity to play for a national championship.”

Oklahoma State’s other goals are to win every game it plays and play competitive football. OSU’s coaching staff and players want Cowboys fans to understand OSU has a chance to win every football game it plays.

“That’s what our goal is this Saturday ... It is a very important game. Our players are excited about it. Our coaches are excited about it. We still have to prepare and do the things that give them the best chance of winning Saturday night,” Gundy said.

OU coach Bob Stoops said it’s exciting to play Oklahoma State in the final game of the year for the Big 12 championship.

“It’s positive for the conference, for the schools,” Stoops said.

The Sooners will be pursuing their eighth conference title. OU would receive the Big 12’s automatic BCS Bowl bid with a win.

Oklahoma State’s ability to create turnovers has been a key to their success this year, Stoops said. OSU’s defense has forced 37 turnovers in 11 games.

“It will be important for us to protect the football and not turn it over,” Stoops said.

Defensively, OU will focus on stopping OSU’s running game first. Then, it will turn up the pressure on OSU’s passing attack and try to disrupt quarterback Brandon Weeden’s rhythm, he said.

The OU coach said the Sooners also will have to manage the weather.

There is a 70 percent chance of rain in the afternoon. It drops to 20 percent in the evening. Still, the footballs will be damp and temperatures in the upper 40s at kickoff dropping to the upper 30s as the night wears on.

“The players are excited about the challenge of it and are looking forward to it,” Stoops said.

- Day is sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.

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