Yurcich Knows A Good Rivalry When He Sees It

Mike Yurcich will be participating in his first Bedlam game Saturday, and the 108th meeting of Oklahoma State and Oklahoma may be one of the most important ever played. That fact is not lost on the first-year Cowboys offensive coordinator who grew up in Ohio, attended college in Pennsylvania and had never set foot in Oklahoma until this past February. But rivalry games are nothing new to Yurcich.

The sixth-ranked Cowboys (10-1) will capture their second Big 12 title in three years – and the conference's automatic BCS berth – with a victory over the No. 18 Sooners (9-2) on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.

While this will be the first Bedlam game for Yurcich, who spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons as the offensive coordinator at Division II Shippensburg (Pa.) University, he already has been indoctrinated into the importance of defeating the Sooners.

However, he says his approach is to treat it lie it's another game (like everyone else interviewed this week, whether it be Mike Gundy, Bob Stoops or any of the two team's assistants).

"I think if you treat it any differently you might get a little bit different results. You want to keep things the same, as far as mental preparation stand out, (and) as far as physical standpoint, making sure you're prepared the same way each week because they're all important," Yurcich said.

But when asked about some of his favorite rivalry moments, Yurcich didn't sound like a coach who treated every game the same.

Euclid (Ohio) High School's rival when Yurcich was a quarterback in the mid-1990s was nearby Mentor High School. He remembers one game in particular against Mentor. Yurcich's mom showed up at the Halloween night game wearing a mummy costume (as he recollects) and had made a sign that read, ‘RIP Mentor.'

"I remember that game because it was a beautiful evening and we threw the ball around pretty well," said Yurcich, who was a sophomore starting quarterback. "We ended up beating the snot out of them. I think I threw three touchdown passes, and any time you beat Mentor it was a good deal. It was a big deal and it was a big game for us. We went undefeated that year."

It's also a special memory of his mother, who died of lung cancer in 2004.

Yurcich's college career at California University in Pennsylvania also included a couple of rivalry games. "Any time we played Slippery Rock or IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), those were the two big ones," he said.

Although it wasn't against Slippery rock or IUP, Yurcich does remember his final college game in 1998. California University was 3-7 and had lost five games in a row before traveling to Clarion for the final game of the season.

"I think the last game I played as a senior we beat Clarion at Clarion, and it was a really good football game. We played real well. I'll always remember that football game," Yurcich said of the 30-28 victory on Nov. 14, 1998.

The Cowboys offensive coordinator would like nothing better than for this year's OSU seniors – especially the offensive players like Clint Chelf, Parker Graham, Brandon Webb, Jeremy Smith, Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore and Kye Staley – to have fond memories 15 years later of Saturday night's Bedlam game.

Chelf and the two Moores – Tracy and Charlie – have played some of the best football of their careers the last three weeks in victories over Kansas (42-6), Texas (38-13) and Baylor (49-17).

Chelf, the fifth-year senior quarterback from Enid, Okla., has completed 54 of 84 passes (64.3 percent) for 832 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception in the three victories.

Tracy Moore, a fifth-year senior receiver from Tulsa, was on the receiving end of 13 of those passes for 226 yards and four touchdowns. Charlie Moore, a fourth-year senior from Bullard, Texas, had 11 catches for 172 yards and two TDs.

"I think they've been there all year as far as their consisteney, work ethic," Yurcich said of the two senior receivers. "Everybody wants the football but they understand that it's a team game. They're very talented, yet they're good teammates as well and I think that's very important. They come to work every day and it's very consistent on their effort, and their enthusiasm is always where it needs to be for practice and games."

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