Is Cowboy Crowd Worth Seven Points?

STILLWATER – With it beginning to look more likely that Oklahoma State will need to defeat 13th-ranked Oklahoma if the Cowboys plan to spend their Christmas holidays at a bowl game the team may need every edge possible in the 101st Bedlam meeting Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium. That edge may just be you and every other Cowboy fan reading this story.

Oklahoma State, 6-5, will secure a trip to some place like Shreveport, La., Houston, Texas, or Phoenix, Ariz., with a victory over the 9-2 Sooners. But a loss could jeopardize those postseason plans, even though they have the required six wins to become bowl eligible. The Big 12 Conference has just eight bowl tie-ins, and with the victory by Kansas over Kansas State this past weekend there are now nine Big 12 schools now eligible to go bowling. So there's no guarantee that the Cowboys will go anywhere unless they defeat the Sooners on Saturday.

That's where every Cowboy fan from Altus in southwest Oklahoma to Miami in the northeast part of the state fits into the equation. OSU has won two of the last four games played in Stillwater against its Bedlam rivals, and Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy does not think that's just a coincidence. And the Cowboys could have very easily won all four of those games – losing 38-35 in 2004 when a game-tying field goal in the game's final seconds by the Cowboys was no good and suffering a 12-7 loss in 2000 when a late pass into the end zone for what would have been a game-winning touchdown was knocked incomplete.

The Cowboys won 38-28 in 2002 when quarterback Josh Fields and wide receiver Rashaun Woods teamed up to torch the Sooner secondary. In 1998, the Cowboys rolled to an easy 41-26 victory.

OSU has outscored OU 121-104 in the last four Bedlam games played in Stillwater.

"When you play any game in this league at home it's an advantage," said Gundy of the Cowboys, winners of five of their last six games at Boone Pickens Stadium, including a 4-1 record this season. "(That's because) the comfort level of the players in their surroundings, where they stay the night before, their own locker room, using their own training room, obviously the crowd noise, the excitement and people there … I don't think there's any question that playing at home is an advantage for whatever team it may be.

"I don't think there's any doubt that our crowd the last few years has really gotten into the games."

The Sooners are favored by six points but Gundy – and another Big 12 coach – believes the Boone Pickens Stadium crowd could be the difference Saturday.

"A year ago I was told be a friend of mine, who is a coach that has been in this league for a long time, that he said he felt like Stillwater was worth seven points now," said Gundy. "Compared to 10 years ago where he said I'm not sure that there was an advantage here in the crowd. That was just him being a coach who has been in this league a long time. When he said that obviously it made me feel good knowing that when people come in here that we have an advantage with the home crowd."

OSU starting offensive guard Kurt Seifried is one of the few players who were on the team in 2002 – the last time the Cowboys beat the Sooners. "It's definitely a different week the whole time you're here. It's great. It's everything you play football for," he said.

Gundy said, "This is a big game – everybody knows it. Coaches say that we want to prepare our players like it's one game, but we train year around and we have goals. We want to be eligible for post-season play, we want to win the (Big 12) South and we want to beat OU. I don't think there's any secret in that but I don't generally have to get up here and say something to get our team fired up.

"Our guys will be ready to play, and they'll want to win this game for two reasons. The first reason is they should want to win every football game we play because that's what we do. The second thing is it's a big game for them because it's an in-state rival," Gundy continued.

Senior Corey Hilliard has started 34 games since arriving in Stillwater in 2003, but the 6-6, 315-pound offensive tackle has never won against OU. Saturday will be the final time he takes on the Sooners.

"It's motivation because I don't want to leave here saying I didn't beat OU," Hilliard said.

GoPokes Top Stories