Dec. 3, 2011
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - A dominating performance made Oklahoma State a conference champion for the first time in decades. Now, the Cowboys want a shot at an even bigger title.
Joseph Randle ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns, Richetti Jones returned a fumble for a score and No. 3 Oklahoma State throttled No. 13 Oklahoma 44-10 Saturday night to win the Big 12 championship and make its case to play for the BCS national title.
The Cowboys (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) snapped an eight-game losing streak in the Bedlam rivalry and won their first outright conference title since 1948 in the three-team Missouri Valley.
Oklahoma State's defense, badmouthed much of the season while giving up big yardage but leading the nation in takeaways, forced the Sooners into five turnovers - four of them by quarterback Landry Jones.
Fans started chanting "L-S-U!" midway through the fourth quarter with the victory well in hand, then stormed the field and tore down the goal posts when it was over.
While the top-ranked Tigers won the SEC championship Saturday to lock up a spot in the BCS title game, No. 2 Alabama sat at home idle after finishing second in its division. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, proved itself the best team in its state and its conference. But it's up to the voters, who had the Cowboys fifth in the coaches' poll and Harris poll, to decide whether Oklahoma State will play for the highest stakes.
Coach Mike Gundy proclaimed earlier this week that he considered the Crimson Tide to be the second-best team in the nation "right now" - maybe because that's what he thought his team needed to hear that to get fired up and prove him wrong.
"Last week, I said Alabama should be there," Gundy said on the field after the game. "There's no question Oklahoma State should be No. 2 right now. No question."
For most of the 107 years of the Bedlam rivalry, the Sooners had the better team and more on the line.
But each of the past two years, Oklahoma came in with a lower ranking and still found a way to derail a couple of the best teams in Oklahoma State history - first dashing any hopes of a BCS at-large berth two years ago and then taking away the Cowboys' shot at the Big 12 championship last season.
With all that history on their side, the Sooners came out looking to intimidate.
After coming onto the field, players ran into the west end zone for a pregame prayer and then lingered after it was over - right outside the gate where the Cowboys were getting ready to run out. Coaches, game officials and security officers made them get out of the way.
The Sooners couldn't back up the pregame bluster, though.
Brandon Weeden's 53-yard pass to Tracy Moore set up Jeremy Smith's 9-yard touchdown run, and the Cowboys defense - which entered the game ranked 107th out of 120 teams in the nation - never needed any more than that.
Brodrick Brown outfought Jaz Reynolds to pick off Landry Jones' pass in the end zone and prevent an Oklahoma score, and Alex Elkins stripped the ball from the quarterback on a sack to set up a TD for the Cowboys.
Jamie Blatnick picked up the fumble and returned it 59 yards to the 1-yard line, and Randle scored on the next play to make it 17-0. Randle added a 2-yard run after Sam Proctor's holding penalty on a kickoff return backed the Sooners up, and they went three-and-out - punting it back to Oklahoma State on a shortened field.
Richetti Jones made it 34-3 after Landry Jones reached back to pass the ball and fumbled it onto the turf, with the OSU defender bobbling it and then finally controlling it for a 5-yard return.
The Sooners got their only points on Michael Hunnicutt's 48-yard field goal at the end of the first half and Blake Bell's 28-yard TD scamper with 2:25 left in the game.
Gundy thinks there's more to the Cowboys than the nation's second-highest scoring offense, and he wants a chance to prove it against LSU and its second-ranked defense.
"We'd love to have that challenge. I think our defense is better than what other people say," Gundy said.
It ended up as Oklahoma's most lopsided defeat since losing the 2005 Orange Bowl against Southern California, and the second-biggest margin of victory for the Pokes in the series - behind only a 47-0 shutout in 1945.
Oklahoma State's case to play against LSU in New Orleans next month will be hurt by a double-overtime loss 15 days earlier at Iowa State, which finished its season 6-6. It'll bolstered by five wins against teams in the BCS Top 25, compared to two for Alabama.
And, of course, the Cowboys will have the momentum from not only winning a conference title but doing it in dominating fashion against a team that was ranked No. 1 earlier this season.