Bedlam: Extreme Confusion And Disorder
While the football and basketball Bedlam games stand today as the marquee events in the series, the term 'Bedlam', as it refers to this rivalry, has its roots based in the rivalry between the schools' prestigious wrestling programs. Originally named after the atmosphere during a heated wrestling duel between the two schools (a newspaper writer emerged from Gallagher Hall exclaiming "It's bedlam in there!").
Bedlam used to be about in-state bragging rights and good, old-fashioned pride. If you were in Oklahoma and heard the word bedlam, your thoughts immediately went to the rivalry between The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Both of the Big 12 Conference's South Division, both schools were also members of the Big 8 Conference before the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996.
Even before Oklahoma officially became a state on Nov. 16, 1907, teams from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University were battling it out for gridiron supremacy. In fact, the first-ever meeting between the then-fledgling rivals occurred on the banks of Cottonwood Creek, near the state's original capital city of Guthrie, on November 5, 1904.
It was a cold and blustery day, and heavy rains had left the nearby creek swollen and the playing field in less-than-desirable condition. A kick from the Aggies sailed straight up into the stiff winds that caught the ball and actually blew it back over their heads and toward the creek. A mad scramble ensued, as the rules of that period allowed for the ball to remain live until touched by a member of either team, despite the fact it had exited the field of play.
But the ball bounced into the icy waters. A number of players followed into the creek, including OU's Ed Cook, who was the first to reach the ball and managed to swim back to shore for the first score of the series. That bravery helped spark OU to a 75-0 victory. While the series did not pick up its "bedlam" tag until years later, that memorable contest in 1904 certainly fit the description: "a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion." "Jay C. Upchurch
There has never been a more anticipated Bedlam Game than 1984. Oklahoma was No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 3 in the UPI. Oklahoma State was No. 3 in the AP and No. 2 in the UPI. OSU was No. 1 in the New York Times poll, the most significant computer rankings at that time.
An Orange Bowl invitation and a shot at the national championship was the prize for the winner. OU lost to Washington in the Orange Bowl. OSU beat South Carolina in the Gator Bowl to win 10 games for the first time in school history in Pat Jones' first year as OSU head coach.
This game was 14-14 through the first 37 minutes of the game. Then, two plays turned the game toward the Sooners. OSU's quarterback Rusty Hilger fumbled and OU turned it into a Tim Lashar 27-yard field goal for a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. Then, a disputed fumbled punt by OSU's Bobby Riley sealed the OU victory.
OSU believed Riley was interfered with in trying to catch the punt. OU coach Barry Switzer said Riley moved after making the fair catch and became "fair game." The fumble led to Spencer Tillman's 20-yard TD run and a 24-12 lead early in the fourth quarter. The final Oklahoma 24, Oklahoma State 14.
Some believe that 1988 was Oklahoma State's best team. Certainly, the Cowboys had one of the greatest players in college football history - Barry Sanders. Oklahoma was ranked eighth and OSU was ranked 12th. The game certainly lived up to the hype. A longtime Orange Bowl executive in the press box called it the best game he had ever seen. Sanders and OU running back Mike Gaddis both ran for more than 200 yards.
This game is best known for "the call" and "the play." The call was a personal foul on OSU fullback Garrett Limbrick that turned a four-and-inches into a fourth-and-16 with just 56 seconds left in the game. So, instead of an almost certain first down run by Sanders, OSU was forced to throw. That resulted in "the play," a dropped pass by Brent Parker in the end zone that would have won the game for the Cowboys. The final Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 28.
In 2001 the fourth-ranked Sooners, thanks to a series of upsets earlier that weekend, were almost certain to advance to the Rose Bowl and play Miami for the national championship. It was huge for OU as the defending national champs. And, the Sooners were favored by 28 points.
The Cowboys were 3-7 in Les Miles' first season, but this game would become the biggest upset in Bedlam history. OSU's freshman quarterback Josh Fields took the Cowboys on two long drives in the final eight minutes. Rashaun Woods made a sensational 14-yard TD catch in front of Derrick Strait with 96 seconds to play to win it for the Cowboys. The final Oklahoma State 16, Oklahoma 13.
1945 was the end of the greatest era in OSU football history and the start of OU's national prominence in college football. OSU's victory in the Bedlam game was its 18th straight victory and sent it unbeaten to the Sugar Bowl. Bob Fenimore, a two-time All-American, returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. He ran for 139 yards and hit 6-of-7 passes for 110 yards. This is the game that prompted OU officials to make football a priority at the school. It was also OSU's last shining moment in this series for many years. The Cowboys would not win another Bedlam football game until 1965. The final Oklahoma State 47, Oklahoma 0.
This is the only Bedlam Game that decided a national championship. The national title was on the line in 1956 because a Conference rule prohibited teams from going to bowls in consecutive seasons. So, the Sooners needed only to win Bedlam to wrap up another national title. It was the final game of the season for what many believe was OU's greatest team in its greatest era. The Sooners' victory streak reached 40 games in the win over OSU. It would be snapped the following season at 47 by Notre Dame. How good was OU? The Sooners beat Iowa State (44-0), Missouri (67-14), Nebraska (54-6) and OSU (53-0) to close out the season in an era of low-scoring games. Six Sooners scored in the game.
The Bedlam Series refers to the athletics rivalry between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, of the Big 12 Conference's South Division. Both schools were also members of the Big 8 Conference before the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996.
The Bedlam Series is, like most other intrastate rivalries, a rivalry that goes beyond one or two sports. Both schools also have rivalries with other schools, though most of those rivalries are limited to one or two sports at the most. When the Bedlam Series gained Ford and the Bank of Oklahoma as corporate sponsors, the series became much more formalized. A points system was adopted in order to award a winner of the all athletic competitions combined between the two schools. There is no longer a points system to the Bedlam Series. It is calculated by straight wins and losses in head to head competition. In sports where there is no head to head matchup, the Big 12 Championship final standings are used. It's still about in-state bragging rights and good, old-fashioned pride. But it's also about this.
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