Spotlight on Oklahoma State WR Josh Cooper
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden has spent the past two seasons throwing to All-America receiver Justin Blackmon, the 2010 Biletnikoff Award winner and a finalist for the honor this season.
But Blackmon is not the guy Weeden calls "my security blanket" among the Cowboys' receiver corps. That distinction belongs to Josh Cooper (5-foot-11, 195 pounds), who runs the underneath routes in traffic and hauls in his share of third-down catches to keep the chains moving. OSU coach Mike Gundy identified Cooper as the Cowboys' version of New England Patriots standout Wes Welker, a comparison echoed by Weeden.
Cooper, who has battled a hamstring ailment this season, has 60 catches for 654 yards and three touchdowns heading into Saturday's showdown between No. 3 OSU (10-1, 7-1 in Big 12) and No. 10 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2). Most important, he's back to full speed -- a huge consideration, in Weeden's estimation.
"I want Coop in the lineup on every play," Weeden said. "When he's healthy, he's one of our biggest assets and really makes this offense go. He's my security blanket ...He's hard to cover underneath but he can run by you. I have a lot of trust in Josh. When you get the ball in his hands, you know he'll make big plays."
Cooper has caught a combined 128 passes the past two seasons, most of them from Weeden. But the senior from Mustang, Okla., would happily go without a catch Saturday if that would guarantee a victory over OU in a winner-take-all battle for the Big 12 title.
"It would be great," Cooper said of beating the Sooners. "I have never done it and it has been nine years since we last did it. It would be a dream come true for me. And to win a Big 12 championship would be great, too."
600-yard club: Baylor's offense has topped the 600-yard mark in its past two games and six times in 11 opportunities this season. Before this season, the Bears (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) had cracked the 600-yard mark seven times in the school's first 109 seasons. Eight of the school's 13 games with 600 or more yards have come under coach Art Briles.
Belldozer rolls: Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell has rushed for nine touchdowns in the Sooners' short-yardage set, nicknamed the "Belldozer." All nine have come in the past four games. Bell, a redshirt freshman, is one TD short of the OU record for rushing touchdowns by a freshman QB, held by Charles Thompson (10 in 1987).
Avoiding interceptions: Texas QB Case McCoy, a sophomore who has a 3-1 record as the Longhorns' starter, has thrown 107 passes in his college career without an interception (one last year, 106 this season). That's a school record for most passes without an interception to start a career.
Game of the week
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 3 Oklahoma State (7 p.m., Saturday, WFAA/Ch. 8): The Cowboys control their destiny in the Big 12 title race. But the Sooners control this series. OU has won the last eight meetings and has an 81-17-7 record against OSU. History trumps destiny, one more time. Oklahoma 49, OSU 45.
Iowa State at No. 11 Kansas State (11:30 a.m., Saturday, FSSW): Wildcats cap a 10-win season, take another step toward a Cotton Bowl invitation. Kansas State 34, Iowa State 21.
No. 22 Texas at No. 17 Baylor (2:30 p.m., Saturday, WFAA/Ch. 8): Baylor's explosive offense falls short of 600 yards, but not the win column. Baylor 35, Texas 27.
Last week: 3-1 Season: 56-16