The Oklahoma Bedlam Football Game is the annual battle between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Although historically the Sooners have had the greater success, recent years have been marked by tough competition.
Bedlam has been known to divide friends and families between the colors orange and red. It fills the sportscasts for a week as both sides make derogatory remarks about the other.
It leaks from the radio waves on sports talk, the analysis and the predictions. In the end, it will bring a year-long celebration for one and disappointed shame for the other. It is Bedlam.
There isn't much more hyped in the state of Oklahoma than the Bedlam game. Along with the emotions, it also brings various ad campaigns and sales events as everyone milks it for all it's worth. But in the end, it's a football game, one charged with emotion and carrying serious consequences.
You will struggle to find an Oklahoman, even one who doesn't care much about football, who hasn't chosen sides on the issue. People who get along famously year round will shrug their shoulders and frown at each other when "the game" rolls around. Bedlam is for Oklahoma bragging rights, and nobody ever knows what to expect.
This Year's Game
The 2016 Bedlam Football Game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 3 in Norman, Oklahoma.
Game time is to be announced.
100 years old in 2005, the Bedlam series has historically been dominated by Oklahoma, who owns a first 99 year record of 76-16-7 against the Cowboys, formerly Oklahoma A&M. Beginning in 1995, however, the series was somewhat more representative of its moniker. That was the year that a Bob Simmons-led Oklahoma State team shutout Howard Schnellenberger's Sooners in Norman 12-0.
The victory was widely celebrated in Stillwater, of course, and signaled more parity between the two teams in the coming years.
From 1995-2004, no team won more than 2 games in a row. Oklahoma, almost always favored in the game, blew out the Cowboys during that time on an occasion or two, but they were also upset. One of those upsets came in 2001 when Oklahoma was closing in on a trip to the National Championship game. Freshman QB Josh Fields hit Rashaun Woods for a TD in the 4th quarter to give the Cowboys the 16-13 win. The very next year, OSU won yet again in a 38-28 game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
The Sooners, though, would go on to win the next eight straight: decisively in 2003, by a nose in 2004, ending the "no more than two in a row" issue with a large margin win in 2005 and apparently returning to their previous dominance with 27-21 victory in 2006 and a blowout win in 2007. In 2008, soon-to-be Heisman winner Sam Bradford led his National Championship game bound Sooners into Stillwater and got the victory in a shootout, and the 2009 game ended in a 27-0 Oklahoma shutout. 2010's game, one of the more exciting in the recent history of the series, went down to the wire, where OU won 47-41.
The streak was broken in 2011 when the Cowboys destroyed Oklahoma in Stillwater, 44-10 behind soon-to-be NFL draft picks Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but Oklahoma returned to its winning ways in 2012 with a stirring OT victory in Norman.
If ever there was a game to properly illustrate Oklahoma State's historic struggles in the Bedlam rivalry, the 2013 affair was it indeed. At home and essentially universally favored to get the victory, the Cowboys saw the game go the way of so many others against Oklahoma. For OU fans, it was a case of "Sooner Magic." For OSU fans, it was yet another disappointment in the series, a heart-breaking loss after one of the team's best seasons in school history.
But if ever there was a game to display the craziness of recent match-ups, it was 2014. Oklahoma State was reeling and counting on a true freshman with only one start, but the Cowboys, aided by a baffling decision by Bob Stoops (known by many as the re-punt), won an OT thriller.
The 2015 Sooners squad would win in a rout on its way to the College Football Playoff.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 3
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Why the Sooners Will Win...
...the 2016 game
Both teams have been on a roll since struggling out of the gate, and both teams are coming off impressive wins the week before Thanksgiving. Some will look to last season's blowout win for the Oklahoma Sooners, while others will say much has changed since then and these two teams are more similar than different.
Prolific offenses, leaky defenses. So gets the edge? Well, let's start with the simple. The Sooners have simply dominated the series historically and do not, an odd re-punt decision not withstanding, lose to the Cowboys in Norman very often.
But there's much more than crowd support going Oklahoma's way in this one. The Sooners' offense is as potent as just about any in the country, and while Oklahoma State played well defensively against TCU, they've otherwise struggled at times. Even Kansas, perhaps the worst rushing team in the conference, put up over 200 on the ground against OSU. Are they peaking at the right time, or was TCU a fluke? If it's the latter, the thought of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon must send shivers down the spines of Cowboys fans.
On the other side of the ball, the Sooners have likewise struggled on defense, particularly against the pass. That would seem like an edge for Oklahoma State, a good deep passing team.
But the Cowboys' run game has been inconsistent at best, and when the opposition is one-dimensional, the Oklahoma pass-rushers can make life difficult for Mason Rudolph.
Put all that together, and it spells disaster for the Cowboys.
Why the Cowboys Will Win...
...the 2016 game
Home field advantage is often incredibly important in college football.
But the Cowboys have forced overtime the last two trips to Norman, winning one. That win came with Mason Rudolph at the helm, so it's not likely he'll be intimidated. In fact, in terms of motivation, Oklahoma State Cowboys might have the edge. The loss last season didn't leave a good taste in their mouths, and they love being the underdog.
As for the pieces on the field, let's look first at an incredibly suspect Sooners secondary. Teams have consistently torched them on big plays and after missed tackles, and if there's a team in the Big 12 perfectly suited to exploit that, it's Oklahoma State. The Cowboys' running game continues to improve and looked really good against a TCU defense that has been otherwise strong in that area.
Defensively, the task is a tall one for Oklahoma State. They just haven't faced an offense as flexible and explosive as Oklahoma's. However, there are a couple of areas that could be the difference. First, the Cowboys figure to put more pressure on Baker Mayfield than he's used to seeing. And second, OSU has been an opportunistic team all season, forcing teams into turnovers. Mayfield can be a loose cannon when scrambling, so don't be surprised if the Cowboys get a key turnover at a crucial time.
Put it all together, and it spells disaster for the Sooners.
Now you have the breakdown of what could happen. How about what will happen...? Here's my prediction:
After a couple of seasons with bad misses on my predictions, causing me to do unlike the folks on ESPN and admit my failures, I pretty much nailed the 2015 game. Oklahoma controlled the line of scrimmage and came away with the win.
This year is a bit more difficult for me. With the Big 12 Championship on the line, I could see it going either way. Both teams have had defensive issues, and both teams have impressive offenses. So I try to weigh those units against each other. When I do, I don't see either side getting a whole lot of stops. But while I think the defenses are relatively on the same level, the offensive edge goes to Oklahoma. The Cowboys ran it well last week and Justice Hill looks like he's going to be a good one; however, there just isn't anyone in the nation that can compare to Perine and Mixon. With Westbrook emerging as one of the nation's top receivers and a guy behind center who finished 4th in the Heisman voting last season, the flexibility and potency of the Sooner attack stand out above all else here.
Oklahoma 44, Oklahoma State 37
Well, my prediction sure didn't look good early. Whether it was the rain or improvement by the defenses, the widely-shared opinion of a shootout didn't materialize at all. In fact, the game started with punt after punt. Through much of the first half, Oklahoma State looked to easily be the better running team, and Oklahoma was surviving with a few big plays. When Westbrook left the game with concussion symptoms and the Sooners' ground game was consistently bottled up, the Cowboys had to feel good about their chances.
But it was indeed a game of two halves, and the second half was closer to what many expected, at least from Oklahoma. Samaje Perine took over the game, with Joe Mixon adding a well-timed long TD run, and the Sooners pulled away. The Oklahoma State offense, on the other hand, went cold. The running game disappeared, Mason Rudolph had some errant throws, and OSU receivers dropped passes.
The Oklahoma Sooners captured their 10th Big 12 Championship under Bob Stoops after going undefeated in the conference. Final score: 38-20