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Posted: Thursday June 4, 2009 1:32AM; Updated: Thursday June 4, 2009 1:32AM

Pickens: Rival Oklahoma `front-runner' for BCS

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Over the years, billionaire booster T. Boone Pickens has invested quite a chunk of change in making Oklahoma State into a competitive football program.

That doesn't mean he's blind to what the Cowboys are up against.

"They're going to have a good football team," Pickens said Wednesday before a speech in Oklahoma City. "Oklahoma's going to have a good football team. I'd say both schools. No question, OU.

"OU's got to be the front-runner for the BCS."

Maybe Pickens was just being realistic since the rival Sooners have won the past six Bedlam games and bring back Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford from the team that lost the BCS championship game to Florida in January. Or maybe he was trying to put the pressure on Oklahoma while his Cowboys enter a season with their highest expectations in years.

Oklahoma State went 9-4 last year and spent part of the season in the top 10. Most of the team's key players -- including quarterback Zac Robinson, tailback Kendall Hunter and receiver Dez Bryant -- are back this season.

The rivals meet in the season finale Nov. 28 in Norman.

Pickens said he had Oklahoma State coaches and donors visit his Texas ranch last week for a brainstorming session on how to make the team better. The Cowboys plan to move into a new west end zone facility at Boone Pickens Stadium on Monday.

Pickens donated the money to renovate the stadium, including new suites atop the north and south stands and a new weight room, offices and dining area in the bowled-in west end zone.

"We talked about how we were going to be better and how we're going to win," Pickens said. "Some great ideas came out of there. Some of our donors were there. It was a good meeting."

Pickens isn't tipping his hand on what's to come, though.

"If I told you, somebody else would pick up on them. They're secret ideas," Pickens said.

Pickens had to donate an extra $63 million last year after the hedge fund that was to be used to pay for an athletic village at Oklahoma State lost $282 million after its value had peaked at over $400 million. His gift went solely to finish the west end zone complex, but Pickens held out hope that the athletic village -- featuring a new baseball stadium and indoor practice complex, among other facilities -- would be completed "when we make the money."

"We're doing pretty good this year," Pickens said. "We've got a good year going."

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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