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Previewing 'Championship Saturday'
December 06, 2013
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

This football season started in the heat of August and will end on a frigid first Saturday in December. For the Big 12 Conference, it's Championship Saturday; the importance of the final two games should provide plenty of heat.

Oklahoma visits Oklahoma State (11 a.m., ABC) for a Bedlam game that could be played in bitter cold (forecast high of 24 degrees). The Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) can clinch a bid to the Fiesta Bowl with a victory.

Texas will help Baylor close down Floyd Casey Stadium (2:30 p.m., FOX) and the temperature is forecast for below freezing. If OU upsets Oklahoma State, the game in Waco will decide the Big 12 champ. Otherwise, the winner of Texas-Baylor could earn a share of the title.

While Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) can ruin its in-state rival's hopes of a second Big 12 trophy in the last three seasons, according to Bob Stoops that's not motivation.

"That may be the lowest form of motivation that a competitor may have," the OU coach said. "No, that has nothing to do with how we approach the game, whatsoever. That's a very, very low form of motivation."

"All I look at is our season and our team and what improves us, end of story. I have no thought on the other team, whether it's Oklahoma State or anyone else."

Oklahoma has won nine of the last 10 Bedlam meetings; the lone victory came in 2011 when Oklahoma State won 44-10 to clinch the Big 12 title – the school's first conference title in 63 years.

Since losing its Big 12 opener at West Virginia, the Cowboys have won seven in a row including victories at Texas and over Baylor in their last two games.

"Oklahoma State has come a long way in football," coach Mike Gundy said. "Our goal nine-and-a-half years ago was year-in, year-out, on a daily basis, when we went to play a football game, to have a chance to win. And not go to a stadium and the fans feel like we don't have a chance to win. I think we're at that point. … The program is at a different level nationally."

While Texas and Baylor will be on the Sooners' side in the Bedlam rivalry, their game will carry championship implications no matter what.

For the Bears (10-1, 7-1), a victory would been an 11-win season and would help their chances of gaining a BCS at-large bid. The outcome of Friday night's Mid-American Conference championship game also could be a factor; Northern Illinois is 12-0 and faces Bowling Green. If Northern Illinois loses, a BCS at-large spot would open up.

None of which matters to Baylor coach Art Briles.

"What do the bears do in the winter?" Briles asked during a news conference and got the answer, hibernate. "Exactly. So when we're in the season we're not outside looking around. We're just staying in here and staying focused, getting through this one and going on to the next one. That's not going to change, but there are a lot of good scenarios out there, I'm sure."

After a 1-2 start, Texas coach Mack Brown challenged his team to salvage the season by winning the conference title.

"It's crazy to think about where we've come from, especially at 1-2," Longhorns center Dominic Espinosa said. "Obviously, it was dark. We were down there. I think it's crazy to think about the opportunity we have in front of us now."

Texas senior quarterback Case McCoy, who has been the starter for every Big 12 game in place of David Ash, says the season will be a failure without a win over Baylor.

"As far as I'm concerned, yes [it would be,]" McCoy said. "All the marbles are on the table. This game will determine if this season is a success."

Saturday's games
All times Central

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Need to know: (11 a.m., Boone Pickens Stadium, ABC.)
Records: Oklahoma 9-2, 6-2; Oklahoma State 10-1, 7-1.

Scouting Oklahoma: Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight will likely get the start at quarterback. He is averaging 7.7 yards per rush attempt. When he throws, his top targets will be Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard. The Sooners lead the Big 12 in total defense are second to Oklahoma State in scoring defense.

Scouting Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' seven-game Big 12 winning streak has coincided with senior Clint Chelf taking over at quarterback. He is third in the Conference in passing efficiency. Under first-year coordinator Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State's defense has thrived. The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in rushing defense and turnover margin.

This and that: Oklahoma State can finish undefeated at home for just the 12th time in school history and improve to 18-1 in its last 19 games at Boone Pickens Stadium. … In their last five games, the Cowboys have averaged 47.8 points per game and have outscored opponents by 28.4 points per game. …  With a win the Sooners would join Alabama, Oregon and Stanford as teams from BCS conferences with four straight seasons with at least 10 wins.

Texas at Baylor
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Floyd Casey Stadium, FOX.)
Records: Texas 8-3, 7-1; Baylor 10-1, 7-1.

Scouting Texas: The Longhorns have mixed the steady production provided by running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron with a big-play passing attack led by senior quarterback Case McCoy. Senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (10 sacks) leads a defense that is outstanding against the pass but at times struggles to stop the run.

Scouting Baylor: The Bears lead the nation in scoring and are fourth in passing and 11th in rushing. However, Baylor's attack hasn't been as explosive since losing deep threat receiver Tevin Reese. Last week's return of running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin provided a needed boost. The Bears are second in total defense and second in turnover margin.

This and that: Baylor senior safety Ahmad Dixon will miss the first half after being ejected for a targeting penalty last week. … Texas linebacker Steve Edmond is out after suffering a lacerated spleen against Texas Tech. … The eight light standards at Floyd Casey will be turned off one by one with Art Briles flipping the final switch.

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