November 21, 2012
It's the time of year for reflection, everyone. The holidays are upon us, another year has nearly come and gone...and it's high time to unleash hell on the other school down I-35. It's Bedlam week in Oklahoma and interestingly enough, there are more than a few folks outside of the 405/580/918 area code matrix that are curious to see how the latest installment pans out when the Cowboys roll into Norman on Saturday for a 2:30pm CST kickoff versus their arch rival Oklahoma.
For me, it is a curious thing about the Bedlam rivalry in that so many people outside of the boundaries of old Indian Territory understand what's at stake in this football game. Sure, they would probably rattle off The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the battle for the Commander in Chief Trophy, or even that slobber-knocker of recent years better known as the Red River Rivalry before they got around to listing Bedlam, but it is certainly on their list of notable rivalry games. That's a pretty impressive impression...I can remember being in elementary school and not really knowing why folks got so serious when two teams from my home state played one another. Later in life, I graduated from Oklahoma State University and let's just say that the dislike of anything crimson and cream was firmly ingrained in my body and soul, and my understanding of Bedlam was far greater than it had been in my sandbox days.
When I moved out to California several years ago for one of my first "big boy" jobs and began working with people from around the country, college football was a natural topic of conversation; we did work in the sports industry, after all. After hearing more than a few nicknames for all of the conference foes, and a good lesson on why the land thieves are a sorry lot, everyone wanted to talk about Bedlam...and "The Rant", naturally, but I digress. So, when my good friend Brad and another co-worker of ours, Scott, asked me to paint a picture of what Bedlam embodies, it was time to warn them: fill your hands with a cold one because this history lesson could take some time. With that in mind, we OSI blogger folk wanted to recap some of the high points in Bedlam history on an individual level to lend some unique perspectives on the game that we circle first every year on the schedule.
This is mine.
The first Bedlam I ever got to attend was a 44-7 thrashing in favor of the Sooners at Owen Field in 1999. It also was the last time I would allow myself to travel to Norman, Oklahoma for a football game. I have never seen such a revolting, embarrassing display of humanity in my life...grown adults were throwing empty beer cans at my buddy's car, every bleeped-out word from television cascaded in our general direction with some sleight towards OSU added for good measure, the town had a rancid smell - it was awful, bottom line. We had very little to cheer about, obviously, but that's way it went in the Bob Simmons era.
The next year in Stillwater brought on the 12-7 game that almost spelled U-P-S-E-T but a pass for Marcellus Rivers was batted away by Derrick Strait. That was a game that gave me hope, that no matter what the series record may be (which I was reminded of very consistently by my Sooner-supporting fan friends and family), Oklahoma State could give those guys from Norman all they could handle. It was even more convincing after the 2001 Bedlam game that the worm may be turning in the overall series - enter the Mad Hatter, Les Miles.
Everyone knows about 16-13. The impossible became possible. Owen Field fell silent, the University of Oklahoma faithful were stunned. Rashaun Woods caught a perfectly placed pass from Josh Fields in the corner of the endzone for the go-ahead score, but the Fields to T.D. Bryant pass that set up the touchdown was a thing of beauty and also was the precise reason the Pokes were in the position they were to deal the killing blow to the Sooners and their championship hopes. A culture change was happening before our orange-tinged eyes and the Cowboys weren't ready to call it quits on showing Oklahoma they weren't intimidated, particularly when 2002 Bedlam returned to Lewis Field.
38-28. This was easily the best Bedlam game I have been to (didn't land tickets to 2011's 44-10 route of the Sooners, more on that game later). The night before the game was insane. I was living on 5th & Hester, and as we were prone to do, my housemates and I threw a raging party to fire up the weekend. There was something about this game, I felt, that gave us an edge and I know it wasn't the copious amount of Captain Morgan I had imbibed. Nobody gave us a shot in hell to win that game, as far as sports talk & media folks go, and nobody expected us to come out as fast and furious as we did, either. By the time the dust had settled, 38-28 and all zeroes on the clock, Pokes win. I had several friends, also Sooner fans, making a very shell-shocked and somber trip back east on the Cimarron Turnpike that night. Later, when the Les Miles pre-game speech story became public, it was perfectly clear - this game was never in doubt and Oklahoma State was going to bring the heat. It was a fun night out on The Strip, as those who were there can attest.
Of course, that night would be the last night for a spell that we as Pokes could revel in the joyous feeling of knocking Oklahoma down off of their perch. The next eight meetings between the two teams fell in favor of the Sooners, where they would outscore the Pokes 343-178. Then, the stars aligned...and Weeden2Blackmon became a bona fide hashtag, Sooner-killing machine intent on bringing the first Big 12 Championship in football to Orange Country, USA.
It was a chilly night in Stillwater on December 3rd, 2011. The day had been thought to have been threatened by potentially nasty weather which thankfully never showed. Tailgates were buzzing with excitement and inebriation, conversations about how to pressure Landry Jones, to get after their secondary with seam routes, would the game be enough to knock Alabama out of the conversation for the BCS Championship game, was the Iowa State game really the end-all to our hopes of playing for a title...there was plenty on the line for both teams and it was going to be a nationally-broadcast prize fight. I didn't have tickets to the game, but had been milling around multiple tailgate gatherings, and soon enough it was time to get in front of a television and buckle up. Well, it didn't take long...the Pokes were throwing up points and the Sooners could not get out of their own way. Save a Belldozer score and field goal, Oklahoma was hit right in the mouth, over and over and over. Landry Jones folded like a lawn chair with Richetti Jones, Jamie Blatnick and crew in his grill all night long. Brandon Weeden was nails. Blackmon abused the defenders all night en route to his second Biletnikoff award. It was a thing of beauty. Dads shed tears with their sons and daughters, mothers held their mothers as the seconds ticked away. Then, the goal posts came down and the newly crowned Big 12 Champions sang the alma mater, and another chapter in this iconic college football rivalry came to a close, if only for a short year.
So here we are, on the doorstep of another Bedlam. The game is won and lost on the field, and we as fanatics parse every possible detail leading up to the kickoff. There are a lot of areas where the teams are evenly matched, and a few spots where one team holds an edge over the other. Rest assured, this game will once again live up to its moniker.
It's Bedlam, people.