Everything On the Line in Bedlam Time
Once again, it’s time for Bedlam. For most Sooner fans, this isn’t much of a competitive rivalry. This game has been played uninterrupted since 1910. Oklahoma won the first game with Oklahoma State 75-0 in 1904. The Sooners lead the series 90-18-7. The Sooners also own the longest winning streak of 19 games from 1946-1964. Oklahoma has won 16 of the last 18 contests. As the statistics clearly show, this is not a true rivalry.
Although this may be true, 2021 may be an interesting contest(s). A Sooner win will create a repeat in the Big XII championship game, while an Oklahoma State victory will end a disappointing Sooner season.
With these things in mind let’s delve into Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, bedlam time.
What is at Stake
Uncharacteristically, there is a multitude of repercussions at stake in Stillwater this Saturday evening. In the first place, the outcome of this game will determine the participants in the Big XII championship game. Oklahoma State is in the title game regardless of the outcome. A Sooner victory creates a rematch, while a Cowboy win would pit them against Baylor. Of course, a matchup with Baylor is contingent on a Baylor victory over in-state rival Texas Tech.
At stake are not only conference implications, but College Football Playoff ramifications. Heading into this bedlam matchup, Oklahoma comes in at number 10 and Oklahoma State sits at number seven. Two more wins by either team give them a good chance to sneak into the four-team College Football Playoffs.
Oklahoma State rarely enters bedlam as the favorite. The Cowboys are listed as a four-point favorite coming into this game. The Sooners have had an interesting season, to say the least. A victory against the much-hated in-state foe would change all that.
On the other side, Oklahoma State has been on an even plane most of the season. A victory over their big brother would be the culmination of a great year.
The Cowboys have been carried by a tough, talented defense all season. Led by star linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, the Cowboy defense is the top defense in the conference and ranked third nationally. Oklahoma State has allowed one offensive touchdown in its last four games, allowing 5.8 points per game in four games since losing to Iowa State.
The offense has become more and more steady, relying on running back Jaylen Warren and an improving offensive line. The key for the Cowboy offense is ball security by quarterback Spencer Sanders. In the past, Sanders has been prone to turnovers and poor decisions with the ball. So far this season Sanders has been more of a game manager, which has been what the Cowboy’s have needed with such a solid defense.
The Sooners have not lived up to lofty expectations coming into 2021. The offense has been up and down. The defense has shown signs of greatness at times, and other times they look listless and lost. On the positive side, the defense played their best game of the season last week against Iowa State.
The offense showed signs of getting the running game going last week as well. After an incredible beginning against Texas, freshman Quarterback Caleb Williams has had two straight sub-par performances. That being said, Williams gives the Sooners the best chance to be successful moving the ball against a stout Cowboy defense. While Williams hasn’t been very accurate the last two weeks, he has big-play capability on any given snap.
In as far as the defense goes, they showed signs of being dominant last week. The defensive line was virtually unblockable much of the game. Perrion Winfrey, Isaiah Thomas, and Nik Bonitto arguably had their best games of the season. The return of Jalen Redmond has made a huge difference in the Sooner defensive line. Add the performance of Brian Asamoah II and a defense that is getting healthy at the right time bodes well for the Sooners.
The Last Word
In conclusion, as offensive coordinator and head coach at the University of Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley is 6-0 against the Cowboys. While Riley’s counterpart, Mike Gundy is 2-14 against the Sooners as the Cowboys head coach.
At times talent and ability take a back seat in intrastate battles. On many occasions, Gundy and the Cowboys seem to have the better squad but just can’t mentally get past the little brother syndrome against the Sooners.
At least in respect to the Big XII, Riley just seems to have a knack for winning these games. On the contrary, Gundy and the Cowboys just struggle in these situations.
There’s no reason to think anything will change this Saturday night in Stillwater.