No. 3 Okla St makes BCS case in 44-10 win over OU
By JEFF LATZKE
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Mike Gundy didn't feel comfortable campaigning for No. 3 Oklahoma State to play for the national title until his Cowboys had at least won a conference crown.
His team made a better case than anything he could have ever said.
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.
"I don't think there's any question Oklahoma State should play in the big game," Gundy said.
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 (9-3, 6-3) 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.
The top-ranked Tigers could be next up for the Pokes, but only with a boost in the BCS standings due out Sunday night.
"If that's the way it works out, absolutely. We took care of what we could take care of," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "We had to worry about us and control what we could control, and if we were able to do that, we were conference champs."
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.
Gundy proclaimed earlier this week that he considered the Crimson Tide to be the second-best team in the nation "right now" - but that's what he thought his team needed to hear at the time.
"I have to make that decision and I wasn't raised that way. I'm not comfortable standing up and beating our chests and saying that we needed to play somebody when we hadn't even won this game," Gundy said.
"That was what we were telling the team in here every day. ... I said, `Look, I'm not going to go stand up and say we need to go play somebody else until you guys beat Oklahoma.'"
Afterward, he proclaimed on the field that "there's no question Oklahoma State should be No. 2 right now."
"The honest answer is we didn't deserve it. We do now," Gundy said. "And if we'd have won this game 17-14, I don't know if I'd have said it. ... When you win by 34 points, we deserve the right."
The Cowboys won over at least one voter: Sooners coach Bob Stoops said he'd put them at No. 2 on his ballot.
"I'm sure they're going to have some great opportunities from here," Stoops said. "I don't know what will happen."
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.
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.
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.
"That was a convincing win over OU, who is a great team. We were in the No. 1 power-rated conference, we won it outright and we held them to 10 points," Blatnick said.
"We beat them convincingly. What more do you need than that? I don't think anybody wants to see another rematch with no touchdowns."
The Tide's only loss was at home against LSU, 9-6 in overtime. Alabama has the nation's top defense and LSU is second, while Oklahoma State has the nation's No. 2 offense.
"They had their opportunity. I've got all the respect in the world for Alabama, all the respect in the world for LSU, but we need our shot," Gundy said. "There's talk all year about offense in this league, defense in that league and all that. Well, let's find out."
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 be 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.
"They had their shot," Gundy said. "Give us ours."
Updated December 4, 2011