The very definition of Bedlam -- "a place, scene or state of uproar and confusion," according to Webster's dictionary -- tells you everything you need to know about the annual rivalry between No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 22 Oklahoma State that bears its name. It is chaos enveloped in mayhem wrapped inside of pure, unadulterated magic. Those who have experienced it or grew up with it know that to truly describe it, one must first experience it.
The days of Bedlam football, however, appear to be numbered. As Oklahoma prepares to make its move to the SEC after this season, the series by the looks of it appears to be one of the most significant and devastating casualties of conference realignment. Because of the political winds blowing within the state and the finger-pointing by both schools over who is at fault for the series dying out and not continuing after this year, we very well may not have another Bedlam in this lifetime after Saturday.
If that doesn't tell you how high the stakes are and how tense an environment I'm expecting inside Boone Pickens Stadium, then this will: Both OU and OSU are tied with the best conference record in the Big 12 (4-1) going into the weekend. So, yes, there is imminent drama with perhaps the best Bedlam in a long while -- and fittingly, it has implications that extend to the Big 12 title race and beyond.
How lucky are we?!
Before we live out what could be an historic Bedlam, though, let us first look back at the goodies this series has delivered over the years and relive some of the best moments and games.
1969: Oklahoma 28, Oklahoma State 27
Heisman-winning tailback Steve Owens, whom the great Barry Switzer dubbed the "Ricochet Romance," carried -- literally -- OU to narrow victory in this one. Owens had 55 carries for 261 yards, which helped him earn the national rushing title that season en route to winning college football's highest individual honor. The Sooners defense clinched the win by stopping the Cowboys on a 2-point attempt late.
1976: Oklahoma State 31, Oklahoma 24
This game was perfectly emblematic of the see-saw nature of the Bedlam series and many of its back-and-forth thrillers. OSU raced out to an early lead after star tailback Terry Miller sprinted 72 yards for a score in the opening minute, only for OU to charge back to take a double-digit advantage. However, the Cowboys roared back down the stretch to score the final 18 points in a 31-24 win. It was OSU's first win in the Bedlam series in a decade( and turned out to be the last time it would win for another 19 years.
1985: Oklahoma 13, Oklahoma State 0
Now known as "The Ice Bowl" because of the frigid temperatures, the 1985 Bedlam game is largely memorable because of the weather people faced to watch it. OSU's grounds, then known as Lewis Field, were iced over with sleet and the wind chill at halftime was a wicked -4 degrees. OSU amassed just 131 total yards and was shut out, and OU avoided catastrophe in awful conditions on its way to eventually winning the national championship.
1988: Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 28
Barry Sanders clinched the Heisman Trophy in an epic performance ... and a heartbreaking loss ... for Oklahoma State. Sanders rushed for a pair of scores and had 215 yards, but it wasn't enough to lift the Pokes past the Sooners. As great a performance as it was, the memory that sticks out most from this game was the last one: A dropped touchdown connection from Mike Gundy to Brent Parker that would have given OSU the final edge.
2000: Oklahoma 12, Oklahoma State 7
Another Bedlam in which OU staved off OSU and went on to win the national championship. In 2000, QB Josh Heupel, who went on to finish runner-up in the Heisman race, helped lead the Sooners to victory despite nearly losing it late as heavy favorites. Cowboys QB Aso Pogi tossed a pass into the end zone, but OU corner Derrick Strait batted it down to help keep the Sooners' dream season alive.
2001: Oklahoma State 16, Oklahoma 13
Nearly a year to the date after OSU almost dashed OU's title hopes, the Cowboys got their revenge by doing exactly what they failed to do the season prior. Around Oklahoma, all you have to say is "16-13" and people know exactly what you're talking about. OSU freshman QB Josh Fields came up clutch late and found Rashaun Woods for a go-ahead score with just over 90 seconds left to seal the win. The reception is now famously known as "The Catch," and around OSU, folks frequently say "Rashaun is still open" -- a reference to Woods' game-winning score and his eight receptions for 129 yards.
2008: Oklahoma 61, Oklahoma State 41
This game broke the record for the highest-scoring Bedlam game ever until 2017 (more on that in a bit). Sooners QB Sam Bradford put together a legendary performance on the road in Stillwater, replete with one of the best Bedlam highlights of the series in which he put his body on the line for a stunning touchdown. Bradford, who had five total scores and 370 yards passing, used this game as his signature Heisman moment to help secure the award.
2010: Oklahoma 47, Oklahoma State 41
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones matched a school record with 468 yards passing in this high-scoring thriller to help the Sooners to victory on the road in Stillwater. Oklahoma State made things interesting late when Justin Gilbert returned a kick for a touchdown to make it 40-38 with just under three minutes left in the game, but Jones -- less than a minute after throwing an 86-yard touchdown to Cameron Kenney -- found James Hanna for a 76-yard touchdown to put the game on ice.
2011: Oklahoma State 44, Oklahoma 10
OSU snapped an eight-game losing streak to rival OU in dominant fashion in 2011, demolishing the visiting Sooners in Stillwater 44-10 and winning the Big 12 championship in the process.
2012: Oklahoma 51, Oklahoma State 48 (OT)
OSU raced out to a 14-0 lead on the road in Norman but couldn't salt away the Sooners in crunch time. Landry Jones threw for 500 yards and three touchdowns for OU, but it was fellow quarterback Blake Bell, a Bedlam legend who famously ran a "Belldozer" package, who won it. Bell converted on fourth-and-1 to score with four seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. OSU kicked a field goal to open the extra period, but Brennan Clay slammed the door shut for OU with an 18-yard touchdown run to seal it.
2013: Oklahoma 33, Oklahoma State 24
Blake Bell solidified himself as a Bedlam legend in this game to help lead OU to an unlikely 33-24 road victory. OSU needed only to win to secure the Big 12 championship, but Justin Gilbert's almost-but-not-quite game-sealing interception for OSU was ruled a drop late in the game. With just under 20 seconds remaining, Bell took advantage of his second chance and found Jalen Saunders in the end zone for the go-ahead score. Word on the street is that folks who attended the game -- played after a brutal ice storm and in frigid temps -- are still trying to thaw out their frozen feet.
14— Days until Oklahoma Football (@ouftblcountdown) August 19, 2023
“He throws far corner of the end zone! Saunders again, touchdown!!!” Blake Bell crushes Oklahoma State’s BCS dreams with a 7 yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders. This play capped off an 8 play, 66 yard touchdown drive to help win the 2013 edition of Bedlam 33-24 #OUDNA pic.twitter.com/WqeGhbaXlq
2014: Oklahoma State 38, Oklahoma 35 (OT)
Down by seven with less than a minute remaining, Oklahoma State committed what should have been a game-deciding roughing the kicker penalty against the Sooners near midfield. However, Sooners coach Bob Stoops elected to punt the ball again -- to Tyreek Hill! -- and the rest is history. In overtime, Oklahoma State made a field goal to win and secure bowl eligibility.
2017: Oklahoma 62, Oklahoma State 52
The most explosive Bedlam of of all time. The 114 combined points made for the highest-scoring Bedlam ever as QBs Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph put together a pristine offensive display for both teams. Mayfield threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns while Rudolph had five scores of his own and 448 yards passing. OSU running back Justice Hill also had an epic day on the ground with 228 yards and two scores on 30 carries. Rudolph had an open Tyron Johnson down the sideline for what could've been the game-winner with about a minute remaining but missed his man. OU scored two plays later after OSU turned it over on downs.
2021: Oklahoma State 37, Oklahoma 33
An epic game with some fun twists and turns … both on the field and behind the scenes. In the press box, rumors of Lincoln Riley's flirtation with other jobs -- maybe for LSU, maybe for somewhere else -- were less like whispers and more like shouts. Riley and his staff were headed to USC only a few hours later, making the OU loss in Bedlam his last moment with the program. OSU led 37-33 late in the game but OU -- led by a star in QB Caleb Williams -- seemed prime to spoil OSU's hopes once again with a late drive. But Cowboys defensive end Collin Oliver put the game away late with a sack as Boone Pickens Stadium erupted. The win helped send the Cowboys to the Big 12 Championship Game.