For Dru Brown, a unique assignment: In the final home game of the season — on Senior Night — the Oklahoma State quarterback gets the only start he’ll ever have on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf.
If the Cowboys are beaten by Oklahoma on Saturday night, Brown will be remembered as having been a two-year presence on the OSU roster and as the 2019 late-season reliever who subbed for the injured Spencer Sanders.
However, if OSU records its first Bedlam home victory since 2011, Brown would be rewarded with a much more prestigious position in history.
Because Bedlam wins have been so few for Oklahoma State and because OSU people would be thrilled to knock Oklahoma from contention for another College Football Playoff berth, a Brown-quarterbacked Cowboys victory would be remembered forever as having been special.
By extension, Brown would get a distinction that in recent years has been reserved for figures like OSU’s Rashaun Woods, Josh Fields and Tyreek Hill, and OU’s Adrian Peterson, Sam Bradford and Baker Mayfield.
Brown would become a Bedlam legend in somewhat the same way that Blake Bell is a Bedlam legend.
Until Sanders injured his thumb, there was no expectation that Brown would take meaningful snaps this season. The Palo Alto, California, native was a 23-game starter at Hawaii, but in two seasons as an OSU transfer he hadn’t started until last week’s 20-13 win at West Virginia. Brown was an efficient 22-of-29 passing for 196 yards. Two touchdowns. No turnovers.
Until late in the third period of the 16-degree Bedlam game in 2013, no one expected Bell to respond with a statement performance. After having lost his role as the Oklahoma starting quarterback, Bell was the No. 3 QB on the 2013 Bedlam pregame depth chart.
As starter Trevor Knight and backup Kendal Thompson were a combined 6-of-17 passing for 53 yards, and as OU trailed 17-10, Bob Stoops asked Bell to change the game.
Known as a “Belldozer” run-game threat with modest arm talent, Bell in slightly more than a quarter was 10-of-16 passing for 140 yards and the game-winning TD — a 7-yard strike to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left.
What a performance from a quarterback who for most of three quarters stood on Boone Pickens Stadium’s north sideline, freezing his you-know-what off.
With a victory, those Cowboys would have been Big 12 champions. Bell ruined that possibility, and now Brown has an opportunity to ruin the season of an opponent that hasn’t lost in a November game in five years.
In the Sooners’ last seven November games, however, the average margin of victory was 4.6 points.
The combination of Jalen Hurts’ problem with turnovers and an erratic defense seems to define OU as vulnerable, but the Sooners usually find a way in Bedlam.
To do it again on Saturday, they’ll have to keep Chuba Hubbard’s run yardage at a reasonable level. The Canadian phenom needs 168 yards to arrive at the 2,000 mark for the season.
OU found a way two years ago. In the most statistically outlandish of all Bedlam contests, the Sooners prevailed 62-52 in Stillwater. The teams combined for 1,446 total yards. Mayfield and Mason Rudolph combined for 10 touchdown passes and more than 1,000 passing yards.
OU’s Marquise Brown had nine catches for 265 yards. OSU’s Justice Hill rushed for 228 yards. OU tight end Mark Andrews played in that game. So did OSU receiver James Washington. Each player mentioned in the previous paragraph and in this one now is on an NFL roster, as are four of the OU offensive linemen who were involved in Bedlam 2017.
Today, as a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, Blake Bell also plays pro football.
In Mike Gundy’s 29th Bedlam game, the Cowboys coach will attempt to get from Brown what Stoops got from Bell six years ago: clutch, memorable, winning quarterback play.