My own eyes officially opened to Bedlam in 2000. I was ten years old. I burst into tears when Aso Pogi’s final pass fell to the Lewis Field turf, enabling the National Title-bound Sooners to escape Stillwater with a 12-7 victory. OU beat Florida State to win the National Championship and finished the year 13-0.
OSU finished 3-8 that year. As Bedlam rolls around every year, I never fail to think of it: the pass falling to the ground, OSU playing out another waisted year in a rusting stadium, not just second-fiddle to OU–they didn’t even belong in the same orchestra with them. One only has to look at the overall history of the game to see why.
I remember the next Monday at school, the ribbing, the sarcasm. U(nless you grew up in Oklahoma this may be hard to understand, but there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of kids across the state who are absolutely depending on the outcome of this game for school to be bearable until after Christmas break.)
And then 2001 happened. OU was ranked No. 4 in the country, 10-1 going into the game. OSU was 3-7. The Pokes pulled off the unbelievable:
Fields-to-Woods! Still makes a chill run down my spine. The next year the Pokes would triumph again, 38-28 in Stillwater–and then would proceed to lose the next nine Bedlam games in a row.
There were close games, almost all of them in Stillwater: the Pokes lost 38-35 in 2004, 27-21 in 2006, 61-41 in 2008 (in a game much closer than the score suggests), and 47-41 in 2010, a game I still remember for being especially devastating. Landry Jones tossed two scores of 76 and 84 yards apiece to win the game. I was so sad I went to a David Bazan show afterward, and actually felt happier (for the uninitiated, Bazan’s music is notoriously bummerish).
And then 2011. On the heals of a devastating defeat at the hands of Iowa State to end OSU’s undefeated run, the Cowboys hosted the Sooners, and Landry Jones did this:
… which is honestly one of my favorite Bedlam memories ever. The Pokes housed the Sooners 44-10, and it felt like age old demons had been exercised. In a way, I suppose they had.
But that would ignore Blake Bell. I have nightmares about Blake Bell scoring on fourth down to send the 2012 game into overtime, of Blake Bell not even starting against OSU in 2013, the coldest football game I have ever attended, and leading the Sooners on a final minute drive that felt as inevitable, as unstoppable as anything I’ve ever watched. The darkness I felt after 2013 is the worst I can remember. Listening to the smattering of OU fans in attendance hollering Boomer! Sooner! to each other as I walked back to my house was enough to make me want to crawl out of my own skin.
2014, of course, felt like more demons being exercised. Of course, what really happened is that Bob Punted Again:
… and the Pokes pulled off the most improbable rivalry upset in recent history.
Which brings us to the here and now.
With a win, OU is likely a lock for the College Football Playoff. If OSU wins and Baylor loses either later tonight to TCU or to Texas next week, the Pokes win the Big 12 and have an outside shot of sneaking into the Playoff themselves.
Weather is likely to be a factor, with temperatures predicted to be in the low 30s, and freezing rain in the forecast. It’s a scenario that absolutely does not favor the Pokes, who only managed 8 yards on the ground last week against Baylor. Mason Rudolph’s status, too, has been up in the air. Although he’s likely to play, he won’t be a hundred percent. Baker Mayfield, who missed the second half of OU’s game against TCU with a concussion, has been cleared to play but may not be a hundred percent either.
Which may bring the game down to J.W. Walsh vs. Trevor Knight, which certainly favors Walsh, one would think. Yet without a run game, and if Rudolph is out or limited, the overall advantage is certainly tilted to the Sooners.
Strange things happen in Bedlam.
Unfortunately, with the weather predicted the way it is, with the Cowboys’ complete lack of a run game, with the incredible momentum OU has sustained since the loss to Texas, with the paltry performance of OSU’s defense (all apologies to Emmanuel Ogbah) in their last two games against ISU and Baylor, I’m seeing an OU victory this weekend, barring some serious outpouring of the great Stillwater Miraculous.
Official prediction: No. 3 Oklahoma 31, No. 11 Oklahoma State 28.
But my hopes are still for this:
Read my other Big 12 picks here.