Oklahoma football: History of the Bedlam series between Sooners and Cowboys

Nov 28, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners line up against the Oklahoma State Cowboys as they prepare to snap the ball at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Sooners defeated the Cowboys 58-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners line up against the Oklahoma State Cowboys as they prepare to snap the ball at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Sooners defeated the Cowboys 58-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oklahoma football series with in-state rival Oklahoma State is one of the longest running series in college football.

The Sooners and Cowboys have been facing each other on the gridiron for 117 years, but this year’s game, which will take place in Stillwater on Saturday, could be the final one in the long-standing rivalry series, which is best known as Bedlam.

The Oklahoma football series with Oklahoma State has been so one sided that some would say it hardly qualifies as a true rivalry.

Typically, a rivalry is thought of as being more evenly contested. Multiple-game winning streaks are not unusual, but when you take into account the overall series, the wins and losses seem to average out over time. It’s hard to think of a rivalry as one in which you lose most of the games.

“Bedlam” was a term that originated with the raucous crowds that were ever-present at the widely popular intrastate wrestling competitions between the two schools. Use of the term quickly expanded, and today it is applied to all athletic competitions between the two schools.

Oklahoma has won 91, or 80 percent, of the 117 football games that the two schools have played.

The inaugural game was played on Nov. 6, 1904. The Sooners won that game by a score of 75-0. That first game stands today as the largest score margin and most points scored by either team in the entire series. Although the Sooners also scored 73 points in a 73-12 win at Oklahoma State in 1946.

Oklahoma has dominated the Bedlam series from Day 1

The first game in the series was played in Guthrie, Oklahoma, approximately midway between the two campuses. That was the only time in the rivalry that the game was not played at either school or in Oklahoma City, which hosted the game for five years between 1915 and 1919.

The Sooners have dominated the rivalry from the beginning. Oklahoma not only won the first 11 games and 15 of the first 16, but OSU, which went by the name Oklahoma A&M at that time, did not score a point in the first eight games and tallied only 35 combined points in the first 16 games.

The combined score of those first 16 games in the OU-OSU rivalry was 439-35. About the only thing that made this a rivalry in those early years was that Oklahoma could count on a win when it came time on the schedule to take on the team from Stillwater.

Oklahoma has put together several lengthy winning streaks in the series — 19 straight under Bud Wilkinson and 15 in a row under Barry Switzer. Yet, remarkably, Oklahoma State has never won more than two in a row in the longtime series.

Since 2000, Oklahoma has won 18 of the 23 games in the series (14 under Bob Stoops, four out of five under Lincoln Riley and one under Brent Venables), including seven of the last eight. Ironically, Riley’s only loss against Oklahoma occurred the night before he announced his decision to leave OU to take the head job at USC.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy has not had the same success. Since being named the Cowboys’ head coach in 2005, Gundy is 3-15 against Oklahoma.

OU’s football dominance in Bedlam has continued in the 2000s

A number of the games in the 2000s between the two in-state rivals have featured two ranked teams and several have decided who would play for the Big 12 championship.

Several of the more memorable games in the 117-year-old rivalry series have occurred in the last 13 years.

In 2010, No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State were tied at 24 after three quarters. The two teams combined for 40 points in the fourth quarter, with the Sooners pulling out a 47-41 victory.

In 2012, No. 13 OU trailed No. 21 OSU the entire game before QB Landry Jones led the Sooners on a fourth-quarter comeback. OU scored 15 fourth-quarter points to tie the game at 45 and send it to overtime. The Sooners held Oklahoma State to a field goal, and Brennan Clay scored the winning touchdown for Oklahoma on an 18-yard run for a 51-48 win.

And then there was the infamous Stoops re-punt game in 2014, in which Tyreek Hill returned the second Sooner punt in the same possession 92 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 45 seconds left in regulation. That touchdown capped off a 21-point four-quarter Oklahoma State comeback. Michael Hunnicutt missed a 44-yard field goal for the Sooners in the first overtime session, but OSU’s Ben Grogan did not miss his try, and the Cowboys seized victory from the jaws of defeat with an improbable 38-35 victory.

And who will forget the 2017 shootout in Stillwater between OU’s Baker Mayfield and OSU’s Mason Rudolph. Mayfield threw for a school-record 598 yards and five touchdowns and No. 8 Oklahoma totaled 785 yards of offense as the Sooners prevailed 62-52 over the 11th-ranked Cowboys in the highest-scoring game in the rivalry series.