Oklahoma football: What fans need to know about Bedlam showdown with Ok-State

Jul 12, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners helmets and logos during Big 12 football media day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 12, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners helmets and logos during Big 12 football media day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Oklahoma football heads out of town for a second straight week, but the Sooners stay in the state for a rivalry showdown with Oklahoma State.

With Oklahoma leaving for the SEC beginning next season, Saturday’s matchup could be the final one between the Sooners and Cowboys in the 118-year history of the Bedlam football series. It is the second longest continuous series with an Oklahoma opponent. OU and Texas have played 119 times.

The Sooners, ranked No. 9 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2023 season, come into the game with a 7-1 overall record and 4-1 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma State is 6-2 and matches OU’s 4-1 conference record.

Oklahoma has dominated the Bedlam series, owning a 91-19-7 record, including an 18-5 record since the 1999 season. OU’s 91 all-time wins over Oklahoma State is tied for the most in FBS history against one opponent.

815. ABC. Saturday, Nov. 4. 856. 2:30 p.m. CT. 7-1, 4-1. 6-2, 4-1. Sooners -5.5

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy is just 3-15 against Oklahoma in his 18 seasons as head coach. He didn’t have any better luck as the Cowboys’ quarterback from 1986-89. This is just Brent Venables’ second season as OU head coach against Oklahoma State, but he has plenty of experience with the Bedlam series. As an assistant under Bob Stoops from 1999 to 2011, Venables was 10-3 against Oklahoma State Oklahoma’s win over the Cowboys last season gives Venables an 11-3 record overall in games with OU’s in-state rival.

Unlike most seasons in the past 23, this traditional rivalry matchup has been played as the regular-season finale for both schools. The game falls on Week 10 of the 2023 schedule with three more games to follow. This is only the eighth time since the 2000 season that the Bedlam game has not been played on the final weekend of the regular season.

Despite the issues surrounding the Oklahoma performance the past two games and the momentum and home-field advantage Oklahoma State has coming into Saturday’s Bedlam showdown, the Sooners are a 5.5-point favorite, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.

The game will be televised to a national audience on ABC at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The announce crew will consist of Dave Pasch on play-by-play with former Sooner player Dusty Dvoracek providing analysis and Tom Luginbill on the sideline.

What to know about Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State got off to a slow start this season, splitting their first four game. Things really looked bad after the Cowboys lost at home to South Alabama by the surprising score of 33-7. That was followed by a 34-27 road loss to Iowa State. Since then, however, head coach Mike Gundy and crew have figured things out. The Cowboys have won their last four games and have gotten better seemingly every week. During that four-game stretch, which includes wins over Kansas State and Kansas, OSU has averaged 40.2 points a game, while giving up 25.0.

Oklahoma State’s key offensive weapon is running back Ollie Gordon II, who leads all FBS teams with 1,087 rushing yards and averages nearly 8.0 yards per carry. More than half of that total has come in his past two games.

While the Cowboys prefer to run the ball featuring Gordon, the past three weeks they have featured a balanced offense. Their passing yardage of 800-plus yards in the last three games is 40 percent of their pass offense for the entire season.

Oklahoma State ranks eighth in the Big 12 and 39th in the nation in total offense. Defensively, OSU ranks next to last in the Big 12, allowing 409 yards per game, which ranks 105th out of the 131 FBS teams.

What to know about Oklahoma

The big question facing the Sooners this weekend is how they will respond to the loss to Kansas. Will they use that as momentum and come out hungry for bear against Oklahoma State, like they did in the win over Texas, or will they doubt themselves and play not to lose instead of playing to win and allow one bad loss turn into two?

Former OU head coach Bob Stoops said in a radio interview this week, it doesn’t matter if you’re coming off a big win or a bad loss, the outlook and the preparation is always about the next game. It’s how you practice and prepare in the week leading up to the next game that determines what the response is and whether you come out on the right or the wrong side of the outcome in the next game.

Injuries may also have an impact on the Sooner game plan on Saturday. Tawee Walker, the team’s rushing leader who had 146 yards on the ground in the Kansas game was injured in the second half, and his availability for the OSU game is still in doubt. The same is true of the Sooners’ defensive leader Danny Stutsman, who also was injured against Kansas and would be a huge loss to OU on the defensive side.

One thing that Oklahoma can count on this weekend is the Sooners will have the best quarterback on the field, which as we all know counts for a lot. Dillon Gabriel leads the Big 12 and ranks in the top-15 nationally in seven major offensive categories (points responsible for per game, total offense, pass completion percentage, pass efficiency rating, passing TDs, passing offense and pass yards per attempt.

Brent Venables may have said it best when at the beginning of the season he said something to the effect that the OU’s biggest opposition this season was themselves. As the Sooners should have learned last week, you can’t give the ball away three times and commit costly penalties totaling 100 yards and expect to beat good teams.

Key matchups

  • OU’s rushing defense, ranked 52nd in the country against the nation’s leading rusher, Ollie Gordan II, who averages nearly eight yards per carry.
  • Dillon Gabriel and the Sooners’ passing offense, 7th best among FBS teams, against Oklahoma State’s 90th-ranked pass defense.

Striking Sooner stat

Over the last eight meetings, Oklahoma is 7-1 against Oklahoma State and averaged 40 points and 536 yards of offense while giving up 27 and 440 to the Cowboys.


The outcome of Saturday’s Bedlam rivalry game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will largely be determined by which Sooner team shows up. Will it be the OU team that played with the edge, discipline and physicality in the win over a highly talented Texas team or the one that has been largely missing those attributes since the Texas game. My gut is telling me that we are going to see more of the former. After all, if you can’t get up for a game against your hated in-state rival, you don’t deserve to call yourself an Oklahoma Sooner. OU leaves a stinging farewell message for its longtime in-state rival: Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma State 31.