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Why I’ll Be Rooting for OU Over Ohio State This Weekend



I’m with Mike Gundy.

At his press conference last week previewing the Tulsa game, Gundy reiterated a stance he has often taken over the years. He wants OU (and Tulsa) to win … a lot.

“We’ve been fortunate enough in Oklahoma over the last 6-8 years we’ve had the three schools be double digit in wins,” said Gundy. “I pay a lot of attention to what they do over there (at Tulsa). We want them to win every game other than when they play us. We want OU to win every game other than when they play us. That’s my opinion. It may not be favorable, but that’s my opinion.”

He was talking about how good it is for the state of Oklahoma as a whole. What he didn’t mention is how this helps Oklahoma State as a football team. If every team you play wins every other game they play besides against you (a mathematical impossibility, I know), then your strength of schedule goes through the roof.

Which brings us to OU-Ohio State this weekend.

Remember the narrative last year when the Buckeyes walloped the Sooners 45-24 in a game that didn’t even feel that close? The Big 12 stinks. And it never improved from there. The Big 12 champ was left out of the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years, and Ohio State moved on to the CFP despite not even playing for its conference crown.*

This year hasn’t started any better. Whether you believe the Big 12 is good or bad doesn’t matter. It is accurate (ack-rut) and borderline undeniable to say that the Big 12 has a national perception problem. Texas losing to Maryland and Baylor losing to Liberty don’t help that perception, as Phillip Slavin pointed out earlier this week.

In another conference, maybe those losses are swept under the rug. In this one, they feel like a death knell because of preconceived biases coming into the year (and every year).

Do you know how that changes? Like, do you know how that entire perception is flipped on its head? By Big 12 teams going on the road to national powerhouses and winning. Texas at USC. Oklahoma at Ohio State. Those games matter, a lot, not just to the Big 12’s playoff hopes but also to Oklahoma State.

If the Pokes win a conference whose teams didn’t beat anybody out of conference, they will be written off as the worst conference winner and once again left out of the CFP (this is a sneaky great aspect of the CFP, by the way — the musical chairs make for great drama). But if Oklahoma State rolls through a conference whose teams beat Ohio State and USC, there might be a conversation to be had (even for a non-juggernaut like the Cowboys).

Again, I’m not saying this is the right way to evaluate College Football Playoff teams. I’m simply saying it’s the way College Football Playoff teams are evaluated.

Think about how the narrative changes for the Big 12 if OU thumps Urban and Co. in the ‘Shoe in primetime. All of a sudden, the Liberty loss can be swept under the rug. The Texas loss can be written off. That’s a big deal.

So yeah, I’m with Mike Gundy. I’m not going to put on a Ryan Broyles jersey or anything, but what’s best for Oklahoma State is what I’m pulling for. And that’s an OU team that goes 11-2 with a pair of losses to the Cowboys. One in November. One in December. That might be enough for Gundy’s Cowboys to be the most-talked about OSU come January.

*Note: I realize we’re talking about Oklahoma State here and the comparison between OU and Ohio State last year was apples to apples because they actually played each other. The point remains, though.

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