The Big 12 does not have a championship game to decide who finishes atop the conference. However, Saturday will feature an unofficial title game of sorts to determine the winner of a BCS Bowl berth.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys are set to host the Oklahoma Sooners in a rivalry contest that could determine who represents the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys are currently tied with Baylor at 7-1 in the conference. Since Oklahoma State defeated both teams in the past two weeks, they hold the tiebreaker and would clinch the Big 12 title with a victory. If the Sooners, who are fourth in the conference at 6-2, pull off the upset, the winner of Saturday’s game between Baylor and Texas will decided the champ.
At No.6 in the nation, a victory still wouldn’t put Oklahoma State in the national title picture. The SEC champion is guaranteed to have one defeat, and would finish ahead of a one-loss Big 12 winner. Even if Florida State and Ohio State were to slip up in their conference title games, the Cowboys would not surpass them and Alabama.
The Cowboys have, thus far, lived up to their expectations as projected conference champs. The same can’t be said for No.17 Oklahoma, who were picked to finish second in the preseason media poll. The Sooners were upset at home against Texas, and were not even competitive in a trip to Baylor that saw them lose by 29 points.
After a change at quarterback midway through the season, Oklahoma State proved they have an elite offense. With Clint Chelf as the starter, the team has averaged almost 48 points per contest. When J.W. Walsh was at the helm, the Cowboys averaged less than 36 points a game against rather weak competition.
In Oklahoma's last game against Kansas State, backup quarterback Trevor Knight got the start over an injured Blake Bell. Knight completed 14 of 20 pass attempts for 171 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushing for 82 yards. Head coach Bob Stoops says he assumes Bell will be cleared to play, though he has yet to name a starter for Saturday.
The Sooner have dominated the Beldam Series of late, winning every year from 2003-20012, with the exception of the 2011 matchup. This year’s game, however, is expected to go differently. At home, the Cowboys are 10.5-point favorites, according to the betting line at most Las Vegas sportsbooks. Mike Gundy's squad has been one of the best teams in college football against the point spread at 8-3.
The Sooners have failed to cover three of their five road games.
Last year, the rivalry game came down to the wire. Oklahoma pulled out a 51-48 victory in overtime.
Prediction: Oklahoma State over Oklahoma, 38-24