STILLWATER, OKLA. The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State football game is always about bragging rights for players and fans. This year, it's personal for the coaches, too.
Bob Stoops of No. 3 Oklahoma and Les Miles of Oklahoma State have traded barbs since shortly after last year's game. The Cowboys won 16-13 to deprive Oklahoma of the Big 12 South title and a possible berth in the national championship game.
Before last season's Cotton Bowl, Stoops said he was glad to be part of a program with such high expectations.
"Some people are satisfied with six wins, five wins," he said. "Some people are even satisfied with four wins. But not here."
Oklahoma State finished 4-7.
Miles stirred things during a summer talk to boosters, saying the Cowboys should have beaten Oklahoma by more. Later, Stoops told fans "it's real easy to win three, four or five games. You try and win 11 or 13 games."
Stoops and Miles have taken the high road this week. They insist they respect the other program and look forward to a spirited game today. But it's obvious they aren't exactly chums.
Miles said his relationship with Stoops is "cordial."
"It's his responsibility to represent Oklahoma, and it would be my responsibility to represent Oklahoma State to best of my ability," he said.
Stoops said there's no need to describe his relationship with Miles or any other coach.
"I see him as much as I see all of the Big 12 coaches, which is once a year at a head coaches meeting," Stoops said. "I don't have a relationship, really, with any of 'em."
Oklahoma (10-1, 6-1) is playing for pride and revenge. The Sooners, who have a 74-15-7 advantage in the series, have already won the South Division title and will play Colorado on Dec. 7 for the conference championship.
Oklahoma State (6-5, 4-3) is bowl eligible for the first time since 1997. A victory would be the Cowboys' fifth in the past eight years against Oklahoma, and would enhance their chances of getting a bowl berth.
Oklahoma State's upset last year " the Cowboys were 27-point underdogs, playing in Norman " has heightened the anticipation for both sides.
"I don't know if last year they weren't really worried about us, but last year we kind of gave them a wake-up call," said T.D. Bryant, whose 31-yard reception late in the game set up OSU's winning touchdown.
Was lack of focus an issue for the Sooners last year?
"If it was, then it's not now," Oklahoma tight end Trent Smith said.
Miles said he would like to think the back-and-forth between him and Stoops is simply "good-natured jostling," the result of two coaches who are proud of their programs.
The idea that what's been said could inspire Oklahoma any more than last year's result, Miles said, is ridiculous.
"Last year is just that " it's old newspapers and great memories," he said. "Whatever was said and was meant will fade into this year's game and won't make any difference. It'll be decided on the field of play."