McMurphy's Law: Okie State or Chokie State? Check back Saturday

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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Brandon Weeden will try to lead the Cowboys to their first win over the Sooners in nine years. (US Presswire)  
Brandon Weeden will try to lead the Cowboys to their first win over the Sooners in nine years. (US Presswire)  

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Bedlam.

That's the one-word description for any competition between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Noticed I didn't call it a rivalry. A rivalry usually means each team enjoys a near equal amount of success. And the Bedlam Series has been anything but competitive: it's been lopsided.

Saturday will mark the 106th football game between the schools located about 90 miles apart. Oklahoma State has won 16 times, there have been seven ties and Oklahoma has won the remaining 82 meetings.

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The schools first played in 1904 -- three years before Oklahoma became a state. Oklahoma won 75-0. That season Oklahoma State also lost to Chilocco Indian College and Tonkawa Prepatory.

Oklahoma State didn't score a point against Oklahoma in the first seven meetings.

Oklahoma State's recent success against Oklahoma hasn't been that dismal. But close. The Cowboys have lost the past eight meetings against the Sooners, so any Oklahoma State victory over Oklahoma is significant.

"They don't like us and we don't like them," Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Cooper said.

A victory Saturday would be historic on a number of levels for Oklahoma State: it would earn the Cowboys their first BCS bowl berth and could propel them into the BCS national title game.

That's mind-boggling for a school whose last major bowl berth was the Sugar Bowl -- in 1946.

The magnitude of what could happen is so incredible that the school's most famous alum not named T. Boone Pickens didn't want to comment on what a victory Saturday would mean to him or his alma mater.

"Just say Garth Brooks declined doing this interview because he didn't want to jinx his Cowboys," Brooks told me.

Brooks admitted "everyone around here is holding their breath" for the Oklahoma game. Actually, breathing hasn't been Oklahoma State's problem in the past -- but choking has.

Okie State? How about Chokie State.

In 1976, Oklahoma State would have won the Big Eight title outright and gone to the Orange Bowl if it defeated Colorado. With 1:37 remaining OSU led 10-6 when OSU's Jerry Cramer intercepted CU's Jeff Knapple in the end zone. Cramer ran the ball out of the end zone, fumbled and Colorado recovered at the 1. The Buffaloes scored two TDs in the final 90 seconds for a 20-10 victory.

Then there was the 1983 game against an Oklahoma team in disarray. In the days leading up to the OSU game, OU running back Marcus Dupree abruptly left the team. At the game OSU's scoreboard flashed: "OSU Welcomes Southern Mississippi Recruiting Coordinator" because Dupree was rumored to have returned to Mississippi.

OU was in a serious funk. The Sooners committed seven turnovers, a school-record 15 penalties and trailed 20-3 with 10 minutes remaining. Finally, this was the year Oklahoma State would top the Sooners.

However, Oklahoma scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. After the second one pulled OU within 20-18 with 2:50 remaining, Oklahoma's kickoff team circled coach Barry Switzer. He instructed them to kick it deep and then hoped to get the ball back. Everyone heard Switzer except kicker Tim Lashar, who thought he was supposed to onside kick.

Lashar took his regular approach to the football and hit a line drive that bounced off Chris Rockins' helmet directly to OU's Scott Case. With 1:14 remaining, Lashar drilled the winning 46-yard field goal for a 21-20 victory.

That year Oklahoma State's staff consisted of coach Jimmy Johnson and numerous future NFL/college head coaches and assistants, including Butch Davis, Tony Wise, Dave Wannstedt, Pat Jones and Reggie Herring. Yet, the group never beat OU.

Former OSU radio announcer Bob Barry Sr., who passed away last month, wrote years after that game that Johnson told him after that game if he "couldn't beat OU that day, he never would."

Five years later, Oklahoma State had another chance to beat the Sooners. Trailing 31-28, OSU took over at its 10. Behind quarterback Mike Gundy, running back Barry Sanders and wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes, the Cowboys drove to OU's 20. But on third-and-1, Sanders was stopped shy of the first down and fullback Garrett Limbrick was called a for a dead ball personal foul penalty -- for "cursing" on the sideline.

Instead of fourth-and-inches, OSU faced fourth-and-14 at the 34. With a nervous Switzer puffing on a cigarette on the sideline, Gundy dropped back, rolled right and heaved a perfect pass from the 39. Wide receiver Brent Parker had somehow gotten wide open behind the Sooners' defense in the end zone. Gundy's pass hit Parker in the hands.

He dropped it.

Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 28.

Roger Twibbell, who did the television play-by-play for the game along with analyst Lee Corso, summed it up best: "Sometimes if you're an Oklahoma State fan you have to think 'What in the world do you have to do to beat Oklahoma?'"

That loss was another example in the Cowboys' stretch of futility against Oklahoma. Between 1967 and 1994, OSU lost every year to OU except in 1976 and a tie in 1992. When Oklahoma State finally ended the drought in 1995 with a 12-0 victory, it prompted a popular bumper sticker in Stillwater that read: Oklahoma State 12.

Because of the school's history, Gundy, the former quarterback and now head coach, realizes the importance of Saturday's game.

"For the first time in this program's history -- I'll go back 50 years, maybe further -- they have a chance to win a conference championship," Gundy said. "So it's a big game for that reason. It's something that's not ever been accomplished here and the players are aware of that and the coaches are aware of that.

"It would be nice for our team to go out and play well and win the football game to be able to accomplish something that's never been done here in football."

Only four times in the past 50 years in the Big Eight/Big 12 Conference has Oklahoma State managed to finish in the top two in the league standings. They've already clinched a share of the Big 12 title, but are one victory away from their first outright Big 12 title.

"This is for the Big 12 and that's what we really want," Oklahoma State running back Jeremy Smith said. "We want the ring that says 'Oklahoma State, Big 12 Champions' and not share it."

A win over Oklahoma also would be significant for Gundy, who is 0-10 against the Sooners as a player and a coach. Oklahoma State hasn't beat OU since 2001 and 2002 when the Cowboys were coached by Les Miles.

Saturday night is yet another chance for the Cowboys. The program's 111-year history of ineptness -- Cramer's fumbled interception return, Lashar's onside kick ricocheting off Rockins' helmet, Parker's dropped touchdown -- can be swept away with just one victory.

"It would be great," Cooper said. "I have never done it and it has been nine years since we last [beat Oklahoma]. It would be a dream come true for me and to win a Big 12 championship would be great too."

A great and historic moment for Oklahoma State: if the Cowboys don't choke.

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