NORMAN — Is Oklahoma motivated by playing the spoiler role next weekend in Stillwater?
Junior defensive end Chuka Ndulue scoffed at the question.
“No, playing football is something I'm motivated about,” Ndulue said. “Spoiler, underdog, blah, blah, blah. That's just what the media likes to do to make people pay attention, or whatever it is you all do.”
Regardless, the Sooners find themselves in an unfamiliar position for next Saturday morning's Bedlam clash with archrival Oklahoma State. With a win, the Cowboys will claim a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl berth.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 83-17-7, and has won nine of the last 10 Bedlam meetings. The Cowboys have had lots of opportunities to spoil potential OU championships, but rarely has the reverse been the case.
In recent memory, Oklahoma's only real spoiler shot came in 2009, when the Cowboys entered Bedlam in Norman with a win all but guaranteeing a Fiesta Bowl berth. The Sooners were laboring through a tough, injury-filled season, but beat OSU 27-0.
After Oklahoma suffered its second Big 12 loss this season — a 41-12 shellacking at Baylor — and OSU routed the Bears only a couple weeks later, the Sooners became the clear underdog for this year's Bedlam clash.
Any chance OU had to claim a slice of the Big 12 title was destroyed this week with Texas' rout of Texas Tech and Baylor's victory over TCU eliminating the possibility of any two-loss teams finishing at the top of the conference standings.
“I don't think necessarily being a spoiler; it's more just about winning the game,” said OU redshirt freshman cornerback Zack Sanchez. “You know, helping ourselves out. It's more important about winning the game and finishing the season strong.”
Win or lose Saturday, and Oklahoma's most likely postseason destination remains the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have lots to gain — and lots to lose — in Bedlam.
“I just wanna go play OSU,” Ndulue said. “That's the bottom line. I want to go up there, have fun, just hit 'em in the mouth, they'll come back and retaliate.
“Just as a rivalry game should be.”