It's All on the Line

There is a lot riding on the Sooners Big 12 Championship game against the Missouri Tigers on Saturday...

A win Saturday in the Big 12 Championship against the Missouri Tigers would do a plethora of things for the Sooners.

The most obvious is that it seemingly locks them into the National Championship against the winner of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), either No. 1 Alabama or No. 4 Florida.

"We look at it as having the opportunity to go to the Big 12 Championship game, and if we win that game, then we're probably going to be in the big game at the end of the year, and that's where we want to be," said sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford.

A loss would more than likely send OU to the Cotton Bowl or some other bowl outside of the BCS.

But as far as the program is concerned, it is even bigger if the Sooners can pull out a victory over the Tigers.

It would set OU well above the rest of the conference with six Big 12 Conference Championships, three times as many as the two teams with the second most.

Nebraska and Texas each have two.

In addition, OU would become the first school in the Big 12 to win three straight conference championships. Last year, the Sooners became the first school to win two in a row.

"I guess [the success in conference championships] is just good players and responding and playing well in the environment and situation," said head coach Bob Stoops. "I think overall that is it. I'm sure our crowds have had a big part of it too. We always travel well, and hopefully we can find enough tickets this week."

It will also help the Heisman campaign for Bradford. The game in and of itself will allow Bradford more time in the national spotlight.

But with a victory, Bradford will have led the Sooners to the conference championship in each of his first two seasons as the starting quarterback.

He redshirted when the Sooners won the Big 12 Championship over Nebraska in 2006.

"We got to play in this game last year, and we were fortunate enough to win the Big 12 Championship," Bradford said. "To have the opportunity to come back and have a chance to win a third straight Big 12 Championship, it really is a dream come true."

It may even swing some votes of Heisman balloters for the Saturday, Dec. 13 ceremony in New York City.

Currently, Bradford and Texas junior quarterback Colt McCoy are thought to be in a virtual deadlock for the Heisman Memorial Trophy.

Most importantly, however, a win should give the Sooners a chance to hush some of the critics if they could go in and beat Missouri handily, as Texas did back in October.

"I think [the doubt] is probably a little bit of motivation," Bradford said. "I still think that we have to go out there and prove something to everyone and prove to them that we do deserve to be at this game. So I think it felt like it'll give us some extra motivation this week."

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