Bedlam Has its Ups and Downs

Since the inception of the Bedlam Rivalry Oklahoma State has had a hard time beating Oklahoma, but they have enjoyed much more success over the past 15 years... (Photo by Getty Images)

From a historical standpoint it is fair to say that Oklahoma has dominated Oklahoma State on the gridiron.

As a matter of fact the Cowboys have only been able to muster a win over their cross-state rival just eight times in the modern era of college football. (1946-2007).

In that time span the Sooners have amassed an impressive seven national titles and four Heisman trophy winners (Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, Billy Simms, and Jason White).

The Sooners especially dominated Bedlam in the Barry Switzer era (1973-1989) going a remarkable 16-1, outscoring OSU 592-224.

In that dominant stretch OU would enter the game ranked in the top ten 13 times while the Cowboys were only ranked in the top 25 in five of those contests.

"During those 16 years we were the winningest program in the country," former OU head coach Barry Switzer recalled.

There was a time that OU was expected to win the Bedlam game every single year, but over the past 15 years the perception of the rivalry has started to evolve.

In 1988 the OU football program would be placed on probation by the NCAA and as a repercussion it went through a down period in the 1990's.

OSU was able to win three out of six games from 1993-1998 and in that stretch OU would enter the Bedlam game ranked in the top 25 only once.

"I think they just were not able to keep the kids (recruits) at home," Switzer said as he offered up a reason for the slide. "Plus they obviously had restrictions in scholarships because of the NCAA probation."

In 1999 Bob Stoops would be hired as the head coach and he would instantly return OU to the glory days.

Stoops would initially lead the Crimson and Cream on to two straight Bedlam victories and a National Title (1999-2000).

In 2001 OSU would counter the Stoops hire by appointing current LSU head coach Les Miles to run the Pokes program.

Miles would deliver two straight upset wins over the nationally rated Sooners - making it apparent that the Cowboys were a force to be reckoned with.

The defining moment of the rivalry may have come in 2003 during Miles third season in Stillwater.

Miles helped the Cowboys to a No. 14 ranking and the game with the No. 1 Sooners would be the talk of the nation.

If OSU could pull off their third consecutive Bedlam win then it would knock OU out of the national title hunt and be in tremendous shape to capture the Big 12 South title.

"One team may be the best team in college football and the other is a damn good football team," Miles said in the days heading up to the 2003 game. "We're going to play to see which is which."

An angry OU team would take the field that lat November day and stomp out OSU's Big 12 championship dream, rolling to a 52-9 victory and the Sooners would end up securing a birth in the BCS Championship Game.

"That showed a lot of pride and toughness on our defense," Stoops said after the game. "Our defense didn't give up a touchdown the entire day and that is as fine of defense as I have seen us play."

The Sooners would not win the national title, but since the win over OSU in '03 they have reeled off five consecutive victories in the rivalry, re-establishing their dominance in the series.

This year's Bedlam tilt almost offers up as much intrigue as the 2003 game.

While the Cowboys have no chance of winning a conference title, they are in the midst of one of their most successful seasons.

OSU will enter the game ranked No. 12 with a 9-2 record, and a win will possibly propel them on to the Holiday Bowl.

"I don't think it is different than any other game," current OSU head coach Mike Gundy explained about getting over the OU hump. "We have to play sound football in the special teams and play good defense."

The Sooners have even more riding on the game.

They will enter the game ranked as the No. 3 team in the country.

A victory over OSU will likely vault the Sooners in to the top two of the BCS, which will secure them spot in their third straight Big 12 title game.

"OSU is a tremendous team and they play really well at home just like we do," OU senior receiver Manuel Johnson acknowledged. "So we understand that going down there that we have to bring our ‘A' game."

"There is a lot at stake for them and for us, so obviously it is going to be a great game!"


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