Oklahoma football: Primer on the OU-Oklahoma State Bedlam series

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 27: The Oklahoma State Cowboys huddle before their 'Bedlam' game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 27: The Oklahoma State Cowboys huddle before their 'Bedlam' game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

The very first Oklahoma football game against what was then Oklahoma A&M (which stood for agriculture and mining) was held in 1904 in a city park in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

They didn’t call it Bedlam back then, but the 1904 gridiron encounter, won by Oklahoma 75-0, evolved into a 116-game in-state rivalry series that today fully lives up to its “Bedlam” billing.

The Sooners won the first 11 games in the series and 15 of the first 16 — and by mostly lopsided scores. Oklahoma A&M did not score a single point through the first eight games in the series with OU outscoring its in-state rival 240-0.

On Saturday, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will meet for the 117th time. The Sooners have won 90 of the previous 116 games. The Cowboys have 19 wins and there have been 9 ties.

Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables has been involved in 13 Bedlam battles, all as an assistant coach a defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops. OU was 10-3 in those contests, but this will be Venables first as head coach of the Sooners.

Venables’ first Bedlam game was a home affair at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in 1999. The Sooners won that game 44-7, and Oklahoma fans are hoping for another winning result at home on Saturday when the first-year OU head coach gets his first shot at the Cowboys as a head coach.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has been involved with Bedlam rivalry games in football for 32 years: four years as a player, 10 as an assistant coach and now 18 as head coach. Gundy never beat Oklahoma as a player. He was 3-6-1 as an OSU assistant and is just 3-14 against the Sooners as head coach of the Cowboys

Cale Gundy, Mike’s younger brother, had been associated with Sooner football for almost as long: four seasons as the OU starting quarterback and 23 more as an assistant. Cale was released from the Oklahoma coaching staff this season after using a racial slur in film study with several Sooner players.

The younger Gundy brother had a much better record in Bedlam games as a Sooner. Cale was 3-0-1 against Oklahoma State as a player and was 18-5 as an OU assistant coach.

Since the Associated Press Top-25 college football rankings were first introduced in 1936, Oklahoma has been ranked 60 times at the time of its annual game with Oklahoma State. Since the 2000 season, the Sooners have been ranked 20 times at the time of the Bedlam rivalry game, and 13 times in the top 10.

Bud Wilkinson never lost to Oklahoma State, going a perfect 17-0. Barry Switzer was almost as good, fashioning a 15-1 record against the Sooners’ in-state rivals. Bob Stoops was 14-4 against OSU, including eight straight wins between 2003 and 2010, and Lincoln Riley was 4-1 as head coach in games with Oklahoma State.

One thing all four former Oklahoma head coaches had in common: They all beat OSU in their first season as head coach of the Sooners.

A couple of other fun facts about this longtime rivalry series:

  • While the football and basketball rivalries between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the main sports that carry the “Bedlam” billing, the term was actually coined in reference to the prestigious wrestling programs of the two schools. When these two programs competed against each other in wrestling, raucous crowds would attend the matches.
  • Oklahoma’s largest margin of victory was 75-0 in the inaugural game in 1904.
  • Oklahoma State’s largest win over the Sooners was 47-0 in 1945
  • The Sooners’ longest winning streak in the series was 19 games from 1946 to 1964.
  • Oklahoma State’s longest win streak has been two games.
  • Famous 2003 quote by then-Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles as his team prepared to do battle against the top-ranked Sooners in Norman:

“They’re the best team in college football, or so we’re told…Next Saturday, two teams are           going to play. One is maybe the best team in college football and the other is a darn good           football team, and we’re going to find out which one is which.”

They found out all right. The final score of that game was Oklahoma 52, Oklahoma State 9.