A depleted Big 12 eliminated its conference championship game in football this season, yet managed to retain it at the same time.
Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 in Big 12) and Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) meet at 7 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium, and there couldn't have been anything more appropriate than Bedlam to determine this year's conference champion.
If the No. 3-ranked Cowboys win, they would advance as Big 12 champs to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 5 in Glendale, Ariz., or they possibly could have an outside chance at qualifying for the BCS national championship game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
If the No. 10-ranked Sooners win, they would win all conference tiebreakers and become the Big 12 representative in the Fiesta Bowl for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
Even though an OU victory would bring co-champions in the Sooners and Cowboys – or possibly tri-champions with OU, OSU and Kansas State – Sooners coach Bob Stoops still sees a "true" champion thanks to the league's first-ever round-robin schedule that had every Big 12 team face each other.
"That's how I've always looked at it," Stoops said during Monday's weekly Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "It's not like we haven't played each other. In our eyes, there'll be one (conference champion). That's just how I see it. Again, I don't know any other way to look at it. If you're all going to play each other it pretty well sets up that way."
OSU coach Mike Gundy said he also is a proponent of the round-robin schedule, which became necessary with the departures of Nebraska and Colorado this season.
"I think it's fair that each team in our conference competes against each other," Gundy said. "It eliminates all discussion of where a certain team would be or should be based on whether they were able to or not able to compete against certain teams.
"I do think the nine-game, round-robin schedule is going to put more teams in our league into what would be the six-win, seven-win, eight-win category than what would be in the eight-, nine- and 10-win category, which is evident this year with so many teams that are just barely bowl eligible. The reason why is you're playing another tough conference opponent versus maybe somebody that you would have played at home and paid, or bought a team to come in there that may not be as good on paper as what a team in this league would be. I do think it's better, but I do think there's a part that people need to realize the records are not going to be as good as what they've been over the last 10 years."
OU holds an astounding 82-16-7 series lead. Given the championship ramifications and this being the final regular-season game, Saturday qualifies as the biggest Bedlam matchup ever alongside the Nov. 24, 1984, game between the No. 2 Sooners and No. 3 Cowboys in Norman, which OU won 24-14.
"Oh, I think it's (always) been big," Stoops said. "A year ago we played on Thanksgiving and whoever won was going to go play Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game, so we look at it the same way."
Here's what Stoops and Gundy also had to say during Monday's teleconference:
Did Iowa State make special adjustments handling your Wildcat formation?
Stoops: “Some of it they did a nice job and, you know, that's going to happen. Other parts of it we didn't feel we did a very good job blocking as maybe we did in some other games and missed an assignment on an occasion or two. That's the game. Sometimes they play it a little bit more than you run it. Other times we did execute our blocks and we got it in. it's something that we just have to keep developing. For instance, the option that plays there if he keeps attacking the outside edge guy, but he's a redshirt freshman and has only played so much and we haven't run the option a bunch and he didn't execute it very well, so that's how it goes.”