NORMAN — There is plenty at stake for Oklahoma in Saturday's Bedlam game in Stillwater — for this season and beyond.
There aren't a lot of head-to-head recruiting battles left between the schools for the 2014 class, but the outcome of the game could affect the recruiting perception for players in the 2015 class and beyond.
“It's really big for Oklahoma State. They need to be able to say, ‘We're beating Oklahoma with some level of consistency,'” said Josh McCuistion, who covers OU recruiting for SoonerScoop.com, a Rivals affiliate. “The Big 12 win is huge and that helps, but Oklahoma can always come in and say, ‘But yeah, what's happening on the field?' That's just a trump card that, if they can win this game, they take away from Oklahoma.”
One significant undecided 2014 player with offers from both schools is expected to be in attendance Saturday. But Jenks safety Steven Parker is likely to choose between Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
There are already three juniors with offers from both schools — Jenks defensive tackle Marquise Overton, Midwest City safety Will Sunderland and Casady offensive guard Josh Wariboko. A fourth, Lawton guard Jalin Barnett has an OU offer, and an OSU offer might come soon.
Oklahoma's early push for those in-state prospects is a big of a change in philosophy. Much of that change has come since Bill Bedenbaugh, Jerry Montgomery and Jay Boulware were added to the coaching staff in the offseason.
McCuistion said he doubted Overton would've had an offer at this point if Jackie Shipp was still coaching the defensive line.
“That's just not the way they did it,” McCuistion said. “Gerald McCoy was offered in December of his junior year, and he already had offers from LSU, Miami and a bunch of other ones. Overton's not on that level, but he's very good.”
While Oklahoma's standing nationally has slipped a bit over the past few years as the Sooners haven't played in a BCS National Championship game since the 2008 season, recruits say the program still resonates.