By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Bedlam used to be a mere blip on Oklah-oma’s football radar — not a speed bump so much as far as the Sooners were concerned, more like an uneven piece of pavement.
For most of its history, Bedlam was more like Badlam. Once in a blue moon, the Cowboys would pull out a victory. But for the most part, year in and year out, the results were the same — Sooners win.
In the span between 1955 and 1960, the Sooners outscored the Pokes 200-19. The Cowboys won 31-24 in 1976, OSU’s first victory in the series in a decade, then were outscored 278-68 over the next six seasons.
The Sooners didn’t lose to the Cowboys again until 1995. Then there were back-to-back OSU wins in 2001 and 2002, followed by another drought until last year’s 44-10 blowout in Stillwater.
This year figured to be a return to business as usual in Bedlam, a Sooner beat-down against a young OSU team that lost two high first-round NFL draft choices off last year’s squad and had used three different starting quarterbacks along the way this season.
So who foresaw Saturday’s craziness, which saw the Cowboys build double-digit leads in both halves and in which the Sooners had to drive 86 yards in 17 plays to score with four seconds left and send the game to overtime, where they pulled out a 51-48 victory?
And then a celebration erupted in the evening chill, the likes of which are not usually seen from the Sooners and their fans unless Texas or the national championship are somehow involved.
Does this mean Bedlam is a blip no longer? So it seems.
The Cowboys were not supposed to be able to play with the Sooners this season after losing 10 starters and 21 lettermen.
Then, true freshman Wes Lunt was crowned starting quarterback over redshirt junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh. Then Lunt was injured and Walsh moved up. Then Walsh was injured and declared out for the season, and Chelf moved to the top.
And Chelf darn near led the Cowboys to an upset victory over the Sooners in Norman, a place the Cowboys win as often as Republicans in Congress agree with their Democratic colleagues on anything.
In the end, the Cowboy defense couldn’t rein in Landry Jones, who threw for 500 yards and three touchdowns, though he had to pitch the pigskin 71 times to do it.
In the end, OSU’s defense couldn’t get the stop it needed as time wound down, while the Sooners kept making play after play when their backs were against the wall.
“They made one more big play than us,” said Chelf.
So now, OSU fans will go back to circling next year’s Bedlam game on their calendars (it’s Dec. 7 in Stillwater) and sticking pins in their crimson and cream voodoo dolls.
But could it be that Sooner fans are beginning to take note of Bedlam as well, that they are no longer brushing off the Cowboys as merely OU’s pesky little brothers?
If that huge sigh of relief coming out of Norman Saturday evening is any indication, this series might be developing into a real live rivalry.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.