STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -With all the public opinion and computer calculations that go into deciding whether No. 3 Oklahoma might play for the Big 12 and national championships, there's one surefire way the Sooners can make all that moot.
It was a hard lesson learned seven years ago, when an Oklahoma team that was also third in the BCS standings had its chances of repeating as national champion dashed in the final week of the regular season by in-state rival Oklahoma State.
This year's Bedlam rivalry game finds the Sooners (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) facing what figures to be an even greater challenge than in 2001. Not only does Bob Stoops have to take Oklahoma on the road to Stillwater, but the Sooners must face a much-improved team in the 11th-ranked Cowboys (9-2, 5-2).
Oklahoma State has little to gain except a more prestigious bowl bid and some bragging rights for the next year.
iler,'' Cowboys linebacker Seb Clements said. ``It never hurts to have that in your mind, but really we're just trying to take care of us and get win No. 10. We've got to take care of what we've got to do.''
M that was the most lopsided win in that in-state rivalry in 110 years.
There's no telling exactly what the Sooners need to do to ensure they get the bump they need in the BCS and don't lose the momentum they gained with a 65-21 rout of formerly No. 2 Texas Tech last week. That leads into a discussion of style points, and Stoops doesn't go there.
``We never worry about it,'' Stoops said. ``Didn't last week, don't this week.''
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy expects Kendall Hunter, the nation's fifth-leading rusher with a 130-yard average, to play after missing practice last week with a leg injury. He's a crucial part of the offense that ranks seventh in the nation in total yards and scoring.
``These guys, you've really got to stop the run. They're a lot like our offense in the balance that they have,'' Sooners linebacker Travis Lewis said. ``When they run, they get the play-action off of it. You shut down the run, and it shuts down a couple things that they do.''
M to remind everyone of their best case to stay ahead of the Sooners in the BCS standings.
What's improved the most since then is Oklahoma's defense, which has 16 takeaways in the last four games and now leads the nation in turnover margin. Texas Tech's point total last week was its lowest of the season.
``We know that nobody in the country can stop our offense,'' Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks said. ``For us to win the game and for us to have a great game depends on the defense.''
Road games have been the downfall of the top teams in the Big 12 South race so far. Oklahoma State fell out of contention for the division title with losses at Texas and Texas Tech. The Longhorns' only loss came in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders' championship hopes took a big hit last week in Norman.
Now, it's Oklahoma's turn to head into hostile territory.
``You get a lot of bad things said to you, but you get sort of immune to it and used to it,'' Stoops said. ``It's challenging. That's just how it is.''
rdly been cakewalks for the Sooners lately. OSU has outscored Oklahoma over the last five Bedlam games at home, with its last two losses by a combined nine points.
``Since coach Stoops has been here, I know that we own the series but still they're a prideful program and I know that their guys are going to be just as excited as us being an in-state rivalry. They're having an unbelievable season,'' Sooners linebacker Austin Box said.
``I know that sometimes the score is close, sometimes it may look a little lopsided but each team every year comes out and fights hard.''

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