STILLWATER — Win Bedlam, and projecting Oklahoma State's postseason future is quite easy.
At worst, the Cowboys would go to the Fiesta Bowl with the Big 12's automatic BCS berth. And there could still be a very outside shot of OSU sneaking into the national championship game, should complete chaos ensue at the top of the standings.
Oklahoma will come to Stillwater on Saturday hoping to play the role of spoiler. But what exactly could be spoiled with a Cowboy loss?
Last year's bowl tumble gives a big clue.
OSU finished in a tie with Texas for third in the Big 12 in 2012. But old-fashioned bowl politics and other factors caused the Cowboys to slip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which had the eighth pick of Big 12 teams.
The game — a 58-14 Cowboy victory — was a total dud against a bad Purdue team with an interim coach. It was played on the morning of Jan. 1 in cold and dreary conditions and only televised on ESPNU.
Looking back nearly a year later, OSU coach Mike Gundy admits it wasn't an ideal finish to the season.
“Last year was a huge mistake, in my opinion, for the type of season our players had,” Gundy said. “But obviously somebody sent us to that bowl game and you could tell by the outcome that it didn't really fit where we should have played.
“But that's neither here nor there. I would like to have confidence in our league that a better decision would be made moving forward for every team in this league and not just Oklahoma State.”
And last year's Bedlam played a role in spoiling the Cowboys' postseason destination.
Entering that Thanksgiving weekend game, the Cowboys were still in the conversation for an at-large BCS berth, likely to the Sugar Bowl. But the Sooners won a 51-48 thriller in Norman. The following week, the Cowboys finished the regular season with a 41-34 loss at Baylor.
What could play out this year, should OU upset the Cowboys?
The winner between Saturday's contest between Baylor and Texas would be the Big 12 champion and go to the Fiesta Bowl. The loser then becomes an attractive Cotton Bowl option. OSU and OU would also both be in the conversation for that bowl, though the Sooners played at JerryWorld a season ago.
Should the Cotton Bowl take the Baylor-Texas loser, the Alamo Bowl gets the next pick. The Sooners, fresh off that Bedlam win, could be the choice since OU has never played in that bowl game and OSU just visited San Antonio in September for its game against Texas-San Antonio.
That means OSU could fall to that other game played in the Phoenix area — the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Winning Bedlam, of course, squashes all speculation or opportunity for bowl politics to determine the Cowboys' postseason fate.
But if the Sooners capture the upset, it could spoil way more than OSU's Big 12 title hopes.