NORMAN — Six seasons ago, Oklahoma required some late-season help from Kansas State to leapfrog Texas and ultimately win the Big 12 championship.
This year, OU finds itself hoping for the exact opposite: To have any shot at conference supremacy, OU needs the Longhorns to beat Kansas State on Dec. 1.
College football's famous unpredictability struck again last weekend, when the two top-ranked teams lost on the same day and shook up conference and national championship scenarios.
Baylor's stunning 52-24 upset of then-No. 1 Kansas State has complicated the Big 12 outlook, but OU's conference-title blueprint is relatively simple: Win out, and cheer for Texas in two weeks.
“The only opportunity we have at any of that is to play well and win this week,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. “That's what we'll talk about.”
The Sooners host Oklahoma State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and therein lies the commonality — Bedlam on Thanksgiving weekend — between this season and the two others in which OU needed late-season assistance to win Big 12 titles.
“We can't sit around and worry about what K-State does or doesn't do,” said OU senior defensive lineman David King. “We have to focus on OSU.
“But you look at it, and it's kinda out there. You can't sit around and dwell on it, but with the way football is played today, any team can beat anybody on any given day.”
Such was the case in both 2006 and 2008, when OU overcame Red River Rivalry losses to win the conference because of what happened in November and December.
Oklahoma benefited in 2006 from Kansas State and Texas A&M stunning the Longhorns in back-to-back games to end the regular season; OU eventually won the Big 12 title game.
Two years later, after the Sooners routed Texas Tech and created a memorable three-way tie, OU emerged from the pack to win the conference and play for the national championship.
In each of those seasons, though, Oklahoma could've destroyed its good fortune by losing to Oklahoma State in late November. In 2006, the Sooners won 27-21, and two years later, beat the Cowboys 61-41.
This season on Sept. 22, Oklahoma lost at home to Kansas State and fell in the Big 12 standings behind a Wildcats team that — until last weekend — seemed destined for the national-title game.
After Baylor upset the Wildcats last Saturday, though, the Sooners are another K-State loss from taking control of the Big 12. The Wildcats' only remaining regular-season game is at home against Texas on Dec. 1.
If the Sooners lose this year's Bedlam tilt, messy scenarios like four-way ties atop conference standings become possible.
OU's path to Big 12 supremacy is far simpler by beating OSU, then TCU on the road a week later.
“What really matters to my guys is practice today and the game Saturday,” Stoops said when pressed about his team's chance at winning the Big 12. “How are we gonna play well? We're gonna do what we do and work the process and see where we're at on Sunday.
“End of story.”