Oklahoma football: Bedlam key matchups and intriguing stat facts

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 28 : Running back Samaje Perine
STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 28 : Running back Samaje Perine /

It’s usually a good signal that we’re in the month of November when it comes time for the annual Oklahoma football battle with in-state rival Oklahoma State.

The 117th edition of Bedlam, which is the term they use to describe Oklahoma athletic encounters with Oklahoma State, will take place Saturday night at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and a national ABC television audience.

In terms of wins and losses, Oklahoma’s 90 wins in 116 games hardly qualifies as much of a rivalry, but don’t say that to the faithful fan base of either program. Bedlam is one of two games circled every season on the Sooner schedule (the other being Red River weekend), and probably the one game circled every year on the Oklahoma State football calendar.

So to say that the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game every year doesn’t mean something to both schools would be a gross understatement.

The rivalry matchup between the Sooners and Cowboys on Saturday may not have the marquee attraction of many of the games of the past two decades between these two teams, but it should be a highly competitive game between two teams that don’t now and never have liked each other very much. And as in every season when Bedlam rolls around on the schedule, there will be more at stake than just pride and bragging rights.

Here are some of the key matchups to keep an eye on:

Oklahoma run game against Oklahoma State rushing defense

Led by Eric Gray, the Big 12’s third-best running back with 1,113 yards on the ground and an average of 6.7 yards per carry (6th best nationally), Oklahoma’s rushing offense averages 221.4 yards per game (13th nationally). The Oklahoma State rushing defense ranks 89th in the country, allowing 163.1 yards per game.

Oklahoma State pass offense vs. the Sooner pass defense

Oklahoma State ranks 24th among FBS teams in pass offense, averaging 284.6 yards per contest. The Oklahoma defense allows 232.1 passing yards per game, which is tied for 76th nationally. The reverse vulnerability also exists on the Oklahoma State side, which is allowing 289.8 yards through the air, even worse than the Sooners, ranked 128th out of 131 teams defending the pass.

Marvin Mims vs. Oklahoma State secondary

This is WR Marvin Mims’ third game playing against Oklahoma State. In the two previous games, he has a paltry four total catches for 69 yards, 65 of that total coming his freshman season in 2020 when OU won 41-13 the last time the game was played in Norman. He needs a much stronger performance on Saturday, especially going against a gettable Cowboys’ secondary. Look for Dillon Gabriel and Mims to connect on a two or three deep balls.

Oklahoma pass rush on OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders

The Sooner must be careful of bull-rushing or overpursung Spencer Sanders because of his ability to tuck the ball and run on broken plays as well as designed quarterback runs. Oklahoma State QBs have been sacked 16 times this season. OU must respect that potential so it may limit their ability to get pressure on the Oklahoma State quarterback. The more the Sooners can do to deceive his reads of the OU defense, however, contain him to the pocket or disrupt his rhythm will be a plus for the Oklahoma defensive effort


Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are at opposite ends of the penalty spectrum. In the past few weeks, costly penalties have had a direct impact on the Sooners’ chances to win. The Sooners are the most penalized team in the Big 12 this season, averaging 6.1 per game and 55.1 yards. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are the least penalized Big 12 team (3.1 per game and 35.1 yards).

Stat fact considerations

  • Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have played under the lights nine times previously (8 times in Stillwater, once in Norman). The Sooners are 6-3 in night Bedlam games. OU won the lone Bedlam game played under the lights in Norman, 41-13 in 2020.
  • Since the start of the 2012 season, Oklahoma is 84-6 when scoring at least 35 points.
  • The Sooners are the only Power 5 program in the country that has not had a losing record in the regular season. OU is 5-5 heading into the Bedlam game on Saturday.
  • Since 2000, Oklahoma State leads the country in tackles for loss.
  • Oklahoma State is tied for third nationally since 2010 in forced turnovers. The Cowboys are minus-2 this season in turnover margin. OU is plus-3 in that department.
  • Under Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State is 5-1 this season and 118-14 when leading at halftime.