No matter what championship is on the line, Bedlam is still a big deal.
The stakes of the Dec. 3 game were lowered over the weekend when Baylor and Iowa State — historically the Big 12's two weakest teams — took down Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on consecutive nights to diminish what was shaping up to be a national semifinal.
Instead, it will be the Big 12 championship and a likely trip to the Fiesta Bowl on the line in Stillwater, as long as the Sooners can avoid another upset this weekend. It would take similar chaos in the SEC over the next two weeks to get Oklahoma State — now fourth in the BCS standings — back into the national championship race.
"What it comes down to, they've got an opportunity to play for the Big 12 championship against Oklahoma," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said Monday. "So, they shouldn't need much more motivation than that.... They know what's going on out there. They read it, they see it all the time, so I'm sure they're aware of it."
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Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) was ranked second before its 37-31 loss at Iowa State on Friday night. The Sooners (9-2, 6-2) were No. 5 before losing 45-38 at Baylor the next night.
Heading into the season, the Bears and Cyclones had the fewest conference wins in the first 15 years of the Big 12's existence. Iowa State moved past Kansas with its upset, part of an uprising that might have eliminated the league's chances of winning it all this season.
Both teams are reshaping their goals this week, with Oklahoma hosting Iowa State on Saturday while Oklahoma State has an open date.
"To be honest with you, that's something I talk about from the beginning of the season — to have just your one goal as only to be the national champion isn't always very realistic and percentages of that for everybody are pretty difficult," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said.
So, Stoops always includes the Big 12 title as one of the team's primary goals. Oklahoma has brought home seven Big 12 titles, while no one else has won more than three. Oklahoma State is pursuing its first after settling for a share of the final Big 12 South title following a loss in last year's Bedlam rivalry game.
"That's a great year, any time you're the champion of your league, and that's what we still have an opportunity to do," Stoops said. "So, that'll be great motivation right there."
By virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker against No. 16 Kansas State (9-2, 6-2), Oklahoma State would wrap up the conference title if Iowa State is able to pull off another upset this week in Norman. By winning their last two games, the Sooners could forge a tie with OSU — and possibly K-State — and would get the league's automatic BCS berth.
"Remember the drumbeat leading up to the year was one true champion, right? Because we're all playing each other, we look at it as a chance to be THE champion," Stoops said. "That's great motivation and it could be a great year. That's how we look at it."