Then Oklahoma snatched all that away in making OSU look anything but BCS-worthy.
DeMarco Murray ran for two touchdowns, Ryan Broyles returned a punt 88 yards for a score and Oklahoma knocked Oklahoma State out of contention for its first BCS appearance with a 27-0 win Saturday.
"The only good thing about this is it counts as one loss, and I told the team that," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "To move forward, you have to let go. This team has accomplished a lot. We have an opportunity to go play in a very good bowl game. Where that'll be, I'm not sure."
With representatives of the Fiesta and Orange bowls watching, the Cowboys (9-3, 6-2 Big 12) fell completely flat with their worst offensive performance of the decade. Oklahoma State was shut out for the first time since 2005 by an Oklahoma defense coming off its worst outing of the year in a 41-13 loss at Texas Tech last week.
"That's the way you finish a season," defensive captain Gerald McCoy said. "We've still got a bowl game to play, but that's the way you come back and finish out."
Zac Robinson threw for only 44 yards on 9-for-21 passing after missing last week's game with injuries to his head and shoulder. He was pulled in the fourth quarter with his lowest passing total since taking over as the starting quarterback early in the 2007 season.
"Zac wasn't 100 percent, but that's certainly not an excuse for what happened," Gundy said.
Brandon Weeden, who led a second-half comeback in last week's win against Colorado, finally replaced Robinson after Broyles' punt return put Oklahoma up 27-0 midway through the fourth quarter. The crowd started chanting "Overrated!" after he let Quinn Sharp's punt sail over his head, then fielded the bouncing ball, turned around and raced for the score.
Oklahoma State didn't have a single first down in the second half and finished with only 109 yards of total offense.
"I guess I'd have to say that most of the game is the physical aspect, and they were the most dominating force on the field," Cowboys left tackle Russell Okung said. "And you see the results of that right now."
Broyles, who originally committed to Oklahoma State but instead chose to play for the Sooners, had 103 yards receiving to go with his 209 yards on punt returns. Patrick O'Hara, the walk-on who had never played football before taking over as Oklahoma's kicker two weeks ago, hit field goals from 24 and 19 yards.
The Sooners (7-5, 5-3) have won seven in a row in the Bedlam rivalry and 30 straight home games, the longest streak in the Bowl Subdivision.
"It was a definite way to come out on a high note in this Bedlam game. Everyone was talking about how we were breaking their season or whatnot, but really we were making our season more than anything," Broyles said.
Broyles' 47-yard reception set up Murray's first scoring run, a 13-yarder that he punctuated by leaping from the 4-yard line out of bounds past where the goal line would have extended. He also had a 12-yard TD run following Robinson's interception, which safety Jonathan Nelson returned 37 yards.
The shutout was preserved when tight end Trent Ratterree tracked down Justin Gent from behind on a fumble return in the final minute, stripped the ball and recovered it. That allowed Oklahoma to run out the clock on its first shutout against a ranked team since a 12-0 win against Texas in 2004.
The Sooners have three shutouts in a season for the first time since 1986, when they had five.
"When he did that, I was like, `Yes! Thank you, man.' We worked so hard to keep them with that goose egg, and he made a big play for us," McCoy said.
Oklahoma's Landry Jones finished 20 for 37 for 224 yards. He lost a fumble in the first quarter after a 59-yard punt return by Broyles set up first-and-goal at the 7-yard line.
A season riddled with injuries continued for the Sooners, who played without left tackle Trent Williams. The NFL prospect was the only player on Oklahoma's offense who had started the first 11 games, and his absence left the team with only one of its starters on the line. Tight end Eric Mensik made his first career start on the offensive line to replace Williams.
Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, also out for the season following shoulder surgery, appeared in a videotaped message before the game to thank fans and encourage them to support the Sooners. And receiver Corey Wilson, who injured his back in an offseason car accident, climbed out of his wheelchair and took a few steps with the aid of a walker at the end of Oklahoma's senior day ceremony.
Neither team -- or the referees, for that matter -- gave the fans much to cheer for early on as the game was marred by fumbles and constant replay reviews, including one that required a second look for officials to get the down and distance correct. But while the Sooners made up for their early mistakes, OSU never got anything going.
"We certainly would have liked to have had the opportunity to be in that BCS picture, but we can't do anything about that now," Gundy said. "As I said earlier, at the end of the year, the bowl representatives in this league are going to pick teams that have competed for 12 games. You've got to play 12 games."