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Spencers lead ranked teams into Saturday of Bedlam

It's Spencer vs. Spencer at quarterback on Saturday when No. 14 Oklahoma State faces No. 18 Oklahoma in Norman.

Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State's quarterback, has the experience edge after starting most of the 2019 season.

Spencer Rattler, his Oklahoma counterpart, redshirted last season but having played against Texas earlier this season, has gained experience in rivalry games.

That's something Sanders doesn't have after missing last year's Bedlam due to injury.

Even without that big-game experience, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy feels comfortable with the progress of his sophomore, especially when it comes to Sanders handling adversity.

"He's turned (180 degrees) from where he was at this time last year," Gundy said. "We needed him to adjust his composure sometimes when things don't go well."

For OU (5-2, 4-2 Big 12), Rattler struggled initially in his big-game debut Oct. 10 against Texas, when two costly turnovers got him benched in the second quarter. But Rattler bounced back, coming up with several big plays late in that game, especially in overtime, as the Sooners came back to win.

"Spencer's pretty level-headed," Oklahoma H-back Jeremiah Hall said of Rattler. "He reminds me of Kyler (Murray). Kyler was never too high or too low and Spencer typically has that same mindset. Obviously he celebrates the touchdowns and is happy when we make a play and things like that, but it's never over the top and (he's) never somewhat nervous or anything like that."

And it figures that Rattler needs to play a solid game for the Sooners against the Cowboys (5-1 overall, 4-1), who have one of the top defenses in the country. Oklahoma State has allowed an average of just 311.5 yards per game. The Sooners have averaged 515.

Back-to-back losses to start conference play put the Sooners in a difficult position, but they've responded with four consecutive wins to climb back into contention.

"Should be a lot of fun here in Norman on Saturday night," Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. "Can't wait to play."

The Cowboys are in a rare position in this rivalry compared to recent years.

Normally, for OSU to win the Big 12, the Cowboys would probably have to knock off the Sooners twice -- in the regular season, and in the conference championship game. But Oklahoma's early losses to Kansas State and Iowa State have changed that.

Oklahoma State likely would need to beat OU just once to have a shot at their first conference title since 2011 and their second in more than 40 years.

A win Saturday would not only put the Cowboys in the driver's seat for their first Big 12 Championship Game berth, but would virtually knock the Sooners out of contention, ending their five-year run of conference titles with two regular-season games remaining.

Yet, the Cowboys' offense has struggled with consistency and is coming off a 256-yard performance in a win over Kansas State. Oklahoma State hadn't had that few yards in a game since 2014.

While the Cowboys' Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace, at running back and receiver, are still capable of game-breaking plays at any moment, both have been banged up recently and three Oklahoma State offensive linemen are injured, two replaced by freshmen.

--Field Level Media