<
>

It's all within reach for Oklahoma State

A year ago, Oklahoma State needed to beat Oklahoma to reach a BCS berth for the first time -- with an at-large bid. The catch? They had to do it with a banged-up Zac Robinson, a star receiver shelved for the season and a former All-American running back trying to play through a gimpy ankle.

Tougher still, the Cowboys would have to do it on Owen Field, where only one Big 12 team (granted, it was the Cowboys in 2001) has ever beaten Bob Stoops.

They lost 27-0 and settled for the Cotton Bowl and a second consecutive nine-win season.

On Saturday, they'll have another shot. This time around, it finally looks like the Cowboys' chance to end a winless streak against Oklahoma since 2002.

They boast the conference's most productive quarterback (Brandon Weeden), running back (Kendall Hunter) and receiver (Justin Blackmon), all favorites for first-team All-Big 12 honors. A defense that looked gelatinous early, has solidified with three of its best performances of the year in lopsided wins over Baylor, Texas and Kansas. A first 10-win regular season has already been achieved, and with it should come a Big 12 Coach of the Year award for Mike Gundy, win or lose against the Sooners.

In August, it looked like four or five teams would come between the Cowboys and the top of the division, with youth and an offensive transition keeping them from bridging the gap.

Now, all that's stands between the Cowboys and a first-ever trip to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship are the Sooners from the south. As it should be. For Oklahoma State, the only thing better than a trip to the title game would be denying its in-state rival its own chance.

This time, the full-strength Cowboys host the Sooners in Stillwater, with America ready to see them tangle in primetime, College GameDay on campus and history to be made.

It's all there for them.

We'll find out on Saturday if the Cowboys can reach out and grab it.