How does the nations fourth-ranked team get up to play a 3-7 team one week before possibly their biggest game of the season?
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops says it's not because of last season's 12-7 scare in Stillwater, or because in-state rival Oklahoma State is coming to town.
The Sooners (10-1, 6-1) still control their own destiny in the run for the roses, but their first goal of reaching the Big 12 Conference Championship game next weekend in Dallas will not be accomplished unless they knock-off hapless Oklahoma State (3-7, 1-6) Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m on Senior Day in Norman.
"Last year when we played this game we had already clinched the Big 12 South. This year we understand that we need to win this football game to do so," said Stoops at his weekly press conference Tuesday in Norman.
"This is the game that will win us the Big 12 South championship and put us in position to win a Big 12 Championship. We've got a lot of motivation just outside of the fact that it's just Oklahoma State."
When the Sooners headed to Stillwater last season for their annual Bedlam tussle with Oklahoma State, the Big 12 South title was already in hand. But the Cowboys, who entered that game 3-7 as well, gave the Sooners their toughest challenge of the year.
In that game, the Oklahoma State used an "umbrella" defense to hold Oklahoma's offense to their lowest point total (12) so far of the Stoops era, and virtually shut down OU quarterback Josh Heupel, limiting him to only 154 yards through the air, his lowest total in 23 games as a Sooner.
Stoops says he won't remind his players of how the Cowboys almost ended their national championship run last season.
"Our players understand the scores of the games last year. But they also understand last year is last year, this year is this year. Everything is different," Stoops continued.
"The bottom line is we'll get ready to play this week and let's make sure we're at the top of our game. I know our players are excited to do that. They understand what's sitting right in front of them, and they want to go after it."
While Stoops continues to play the motivation card to get his team ready for Saturday, Oklahoma State has plenty of motivation as well, despite their disappointing record.
After a 38-22 win over Baylor last weekend in Waco, the Cowboys have gained some much-needed confidence back and look at playing the Sooners in their final game of this years bowl game.
"There is no question that this will probably be the biggest game that we play all season," said Oklahoma State offensive lineman Jeff Machado. "Everybody knows how big this game is for our team and individually. People just take things personally and I think that is why we usually play well."
"There is no question that we are going to go down and play a great team and it will probably be more fun than any bowl you could ever go to. This is our bowl game and we are going to prepare and have some fun.
"We have an opportunity to clinch and win the Big 12 South Championship and to put ourselves in position to win a Big 12 Championship with this win," said Stoops. "I like that motivation. I prefer that motivation. I think it has our players excited."
Saturday's football encounter between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will mark the 96th all-time meeting between the state rivals. It's OSU's longest on-going series and one of the longest in the NCAA. According the the 2001 NCAA Football Records Book, only 21 rivalries have been played more often than the OSU-OU series. Minnesota-Wisconsin top the list at 110 games. Missouri-Kansas is second at 109. Going into this season, three other rivalries have been played 95 times, including Georgia-Georgia Tech, Nebraska-Iowa State and Texas-Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has dominated the all-time series over Oklahoma State by a 74-14-7 mark. Despite the Sooners overall dominance, no fewer than 30 of the past 95 meetings between the two schools have been decided by 10 points or fewer.
By the numbers
Most Points by OSU: 47 in 1945 Most Points by OU: 75 in 1904 Most lopsided OSU victory: 47-0 in 1945 Most lopsided OU victory: 75-0 in 1904 Shutouts by OSU: 7 Shutouts by OU: 27 Scoreless Ties: 3 OSU victories in Norman: 7 OU victories in Stillwater: 35.
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is 30-6 in three season at Oklahoma, including 2-0 against Oklahoma State. OSU Head Coach Les Miles is 3-7 in his first season in Stillwater.
Twelve seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony on Owen Field before playing their final games as Sooners. The group has led OU Head Coach Bob Stoops to a 30-6 record in his three season while at Oklahoma.
"Another great group of young men, said Stoops on this year's graduating class.
"We only have 12 seniors on this team. Quality class, great group of players who have committed themselves to doing what's necessary succeed. They've been great leaders and tough players. I really appreciate their efforts."
The twelve who will be honored include: Josh Norman (WR), Rocky Calmus (LB), Tim Duncan (K), Brandon Moore (LB), Frank Romero (OL), Will Mathis (OL), Ben Panter (SN), Howard Duncan (OL), Jeff Ferguson (P), Marcus Chretien (DE), Corey Heinecke (DE) and Barry Holleyman (DT).
Sooners have plenty of motivation for OSU
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