STILLWATER – The Big Bowl seems to want defense. Seems to want people who pop you in the mouth and take your lunch money and won't let you in the end zone even under threat of martial law.
Hey, voters. If that's what you want, you don't have to endorse LSU-Alabama anymore.
On the biggest stage in OSU football history, the Cowboys did more than win the school's first outright conference championship. Did more than send their long-dreaming fans screaming onto the field in glee. Did more than complete a Mike Gundy/Boone Pickens dream. Did more than dump a truckload of doubt onto their arch-rivals' organization.
In a 44-10 Bedlam smackdown Saturday night, the Cowboys announced they are Big Bowl worthy. And they did it not with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and that video-game offense.
Bill Young's boys made the case for New Orleans. OSU's defense put the clamps on Landry Jones and the Sooner offense, producing five takeaways, giving up no meaningful points and getting all stingy on yardage, if that kind of thing appeals to you.
OU's points came on a 48-yard field goal that glanced off the upright and a garbage-time touchdown, Blake Bell's 28-yard run, with 2:25 left in the game and only 10 Cowboys on the field.
Gundy had told his defense this was its chance to shine, and the Cowboys went supernova.
“No question they showed up in a big way,” Gundy said.
And Gundy, who during the week declined to play the campaign game, came out with double-barreled endorsements for his Cowboys.
“I don't think there's any question Oklahoma State should be in the big game,” Gundy said.
Why should voters choose OSU over Alabama?
“We lost in double overtime on the road,” Gundy said. “We didn't lose at home. They had their shot. Give us ours.”
The Cowboys at least made Sunday interesting. Analysts said there was no way third-ranked OSU could jump Bama in the BCS rankings, which will be released at 7:15 p.m.
But those analysts are waffling.
“I'd think any voter who woke up this morning willing to be swayed by today's results, will be swayed,” said ESPN's Brad Edwards, a BCS guru. Edwards estimated that OSU would need 45 of 174 voters (combined coaches and Harris polls) to put the Cowboys ahead of Alabama.
On the Twitter world, dignitaries ranging from Dick Vitale to Skip Bayless to Cowboy alums Barry Sanders and Rickie Fowler rang the bell for State.
And a certain benefactor did the same.
Boone Pickens said OSU deserves to be in New Orleans “for all the right reasons.” He said he “just can't imagine” an LSU-Bama rematch. “It looks like an SEC closed system if that happens.”
The Cowboys have Bob Stoops' vote. “I don't know what will happen,” Stoops said. “But I know I'll vote LSU No. 1 and Oklahoma State No. 2.”
Stoops, Pickens and Gundy are right. OSU does deserve to be on Bourbon Street, and here's why.
The Cowboys won the best conference. Don't look now, but the Big 12 has been the highest-ranked conference all season by the computers.
OSU's only loss was a bad defeat – to Iowa State – but it did come on the road and double overtime and, here's the kicker, the day they learned of the plane crashed that killed Cowgirl women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and three others. I was at OSU's team hotel that day, and it was a gloomy place. The Cowboys were in a funk, even when taking a 24-7 lead at Ames.
And Gundy is right. Bama had its shot. Let's try someone else.
“I think we deserve it,” said OSU defensive end Jamie Blatnick, as good a pick as any for best player on the field Saturday night. “That was a convincing win over OU, who's a great team. We held 'em to 10 points. I don't think anybody wants to see another rematch with no touchdowns.”
Wait a minute, big boy. Don't go selling the Cowboys short. Who knows what OSU's defense could produce? The Sooner offense misses Ryan Broyles, but it remained a scoring machine. And the Cowboys made OU look blah.
“We were ready, we were fired up,” Blatnick said. “We just kept after ‘em. Didn't let up.”
Gundy called it one of the best defensive performances ever at OSU, which befits a night so full of history. A night that at the least makes the Cowboys relevant again in the national championship discussion and at the most will put OSU in New Orleans.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.