Bell had just watched Oklahoma State efficiently drive down the field in the 2013 edition of Bedlam to take a four-point lead with 1:46 to go. He didn’t even start the game, but Bell knew that he was going to lead the Sooners to a victory – although, it came much easier a year later with hindsight being 20/20 and all.
The year before in 2012, Bell had scored a game-tying touchdown on fourth-and-1. He already had a little bit of Bedlam magic.
“I did feel very calm,” Bell said. “ . . . Everyone that went out there was like, ‘Let’s do this.’”
Bell hit Sterling Shepard on back-to-back catches before converting a third-and-long to Jalen Saunders in the freezing cold in Stillwater. Bell led Oklahoma all the way down the field to the Oklahoma State 14-yard line before lining up with the chance to win the game.
Oklahoma State’s defense gave Bell the exact look he wanted, and Saunders ran the perfect route to the back of the end zone. When Bell let the pass go, he knew it was right on target.
“It was perfect,” Bell said. “I just had to put it on the back pylon.”
From there, the allure of ‘Bedlam Blake’ grew.
Bell never really had his chance to be the Oklahoma starting quarterback. Although the ‘Belldozer’ gave him unmatched fame, he came to Norman as one of the top high school recruits in the country. He was Landry Jones’ back-up as a sophomore and lost the starting job to Trevor Knight last season. Still, you can’t think of Bedlam the past two years without thinking about Bell, who has scored the game-tying or game-winning touchdown in each game.
“Blake’s had a big impact in this game and some special moments,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “ . . . Those are a couple of big moments: To come in like he did and get the hard one yard when we really needed it, and then the special play.” His last career pass might be that back-pylon toss to Saunders. His last rushing touchdown out of the formation he made famous might very well be that last-second score two years ago against OSU.
Bell thought about transferring after he lost his starting spot, but after talking it over with his parents, he decided he’d rather stay at Oklahoma than go somewhere else, even if he couldn’t be the quarterback. He hadn’t failed as a signal caller but still stepped back to tight end, where he has a chance to throw a touchdown pass, run for a touchdown pass and catch a touchdown pass in Bedlam.
“To me the thing that sticks out is how selfless he’s been and how much he cares about the program and the players inside of it,” Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “ . . . He’s played multiple roles here and done it at a high level. He’ll do anything to help this football team out. I think that speaks to what a guy’s made of.”
Bell has made special plays in the biggest rivalry in the state of Oklahoma, but what he’ll most be remembered for is the formation that was created just for him – all 6-foot-6 and 250-plus pounds of him – and won him the Insight Bowl MVP award.
For the next 20 years, fans won’t forget the ‘Belldozer.’ Bell thinks that teammates will call him ‘Doze’ for the rest of his life.
When fans stop him, they don’t call him Blake or Bell. They yell ‘Hey, Belldozer.’
“I think it’ll be around for a while,” Bell said.
Despite never playing a full season as a starting quarterback, Bell might have made a bigger impact than any of his teammates during his five years at Oklahoma.
Kids run around wearing the No. 10 jersey despite the fact that he never threw for more than 1,700 yards as a quarterback – even when he started in eight of 11 games in 2013. When he first came to Oklahoma, he thought it would be “cool” to see his jersey around Memorial Stadium. The jerseys are all around now, and he has one last Bedlam to make a final memory.
“It’s special, and I feel blessed to be in the situation that I am and some of the memories we’ve made,” Bell said.
“I’ll have great memories,” Bell said.