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 2017 Bedlam Football Game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 4 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Game time is 3 p.m., and it will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
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 became 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, and 2016 would go OU's way as well.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 4
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Why the Sooners Will Win...
...the 2017 game
The Oklahoma Sooners finished 2016 as one of the hottest teams in the country, rolling their way through the Big 12 and beating Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. Despite losing significant talent to the NFL, the 2017 team picked up right where they left off the year before. The biggest statement came in Columbus, where Oklahoma blasted Ohio State 31-16 in a game that probably wasn't even that close. Yes, there was the setback at home against Iowa State, but OU has won 17 of its last 18.
Bedlam games are almost always close these days, as both programs have talent, but there's no doubting Oklahoma's dominance, a fact that even OSU fans will begrudgingly admit. In fact, it's really the only knock on Mike Gundy. His 2-10 record against Oklahoma maintains its own line item on Gundy's Wikipedia page.
But let's talk football... The Sooners undoubtedly have one of the most prolific offenses in the country. Texas held them to their lowest scoring output of 29, but OU still managed over 500 yards of offense. Baker Mayfield is a Heisman candidate, flanked by a bevy of talented and emerging stars in Rodney Anderson, CeeDee Lamb, Mark Andrews and Dimitri Flowers. It's an offense that is, frankly, impossible to stop completely. The defense has seen its share of struggles but always seems to rise to the occasion, as evidenced by the Ohio State game and crunch time against Texas and Kansas State.
Put all that together, and it spells disaster for the Cowboys.
Why the Cowboys Will Win...
...the 2017 game
It gets crazy in Bedlam, regardless of the location, but Boone Pickens Stadium is quite the home field advantage for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the fans as loud and rabid as possible with the hated Sooners in town. While Baker Mayfield and some of the veteran Sooners might not be fazed, OU relies on a number of youngsters, and the atmosphere in a rivalry game can be a significant factor. And speaking of youngsters... Gundy has struggled in the series, but that was against Bob Stoops. Now he's the elder, ready to establish a new trend.
As for the pieces on the field, let's look first at the weakest unit in the game, the Oklahoma defense. After looking stout in Columbus, they have allowed huge numbers week in and week out, and they've done so against suspect competition at times. Mason Rudolph struggled at times last year against an improving OU defense, but he has to be licking his chops this year. With Justice Hill gashing the interior and Rudolph dishing to his talented stable of receivers, it's simply too much for Oklahoma to handle.
Defensively, the task is a tall one for Oklahoma State again, their toughest of the season thus far. But the defense, seemingly improving each week, seems up to the challenge. The back seven will play coverage and force Oklahoma's receivers to get open, something they've struggled with at times. Mayfield loves to move around and buy time, but eventually, time runs out.
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:
My predictions haven't had a successful record over the last ten or twelve years, but I suppose that's not uncommon in this series. The past two seasons, though, I've been spot on calling the game for the Sooners.
In a game that has tremendous Big 12 Championship implications, my word of the day is consistency. I see two things as definitive. Oklahoma's offense is more consistent than Oklahoma State's, and the opposite is true on the other side of the ball. I expect both offenses to have some big scoring strikes - Rudolph to Washington over the OU secondary or Mayfield marching his team down the field with completion after completion. Defensive stops will be at a premium. The team more likely to get those stops in my mind is Oklahoma State. Whether it be a timely takeaway or a 3rd down stand, OSU has simply proven overall more adept there than OU. Oklahoma will hold Justice Hill to pedestrian numbers, but Rudolph's career day at home carries the Cowboys to a narrow win.
Oklahoma State 49, Oklahoma 41
When writing the prediction above, originally I had both scores in the 50's but dialed it back a bit with the thought that the rivalry would bring out some good defense at times. In one of the wildest Bedlam games every played, which is saying something given some of the match-ups this decade, there was very little defense in 2017. There was, however, some outstanding offense and a heavyweight duel between two fantastic quarterbacks. Both made mistakes in key situations, but the game featured an incredible back and forth.
In the end, there were records set all over the place. As expected, Rudolph hit the long ball on a regular basis against a suspect OU secondary. As expected, Mayfield led his team up and down the field. What probably wasn't expected, though, was just how prolific it was. The OSU defense, which had been stout, was solid against the run at times and got some pressure, but Baker Mayfield, perhaps the Heisman frontrunner, finished with nearly 600 yards passing, 5 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown. Rudolph was no slouch either, with 448 yards and 5 touchdowns of his own.
A 38-38 halftime score turned into a narrow Oklahoma lead in a game that came down to the final minute. Trailing 55-52 with 1:06 on the clock, the Cowboys were just out of field goal range and went for it on 4th and 7. Rudolph's pass sailed incomplete, and Oklahoma rubbed a little salt in the Bedlam wound with a game-sealing touchdown run by freshman Trey Sermon.
The Oklahoma Sooners continued their series dominance with a 62-52 marathon victory.