Recent history tells us that even a favored Oklahoma State team has trouble winning the annual Bedlam showdown. This game — this series — takes more than just talent. It takes nerve, it takes poise, it takes the ability to make plays in crunch time. With rare and notable exceptions, OSU has lacked those crucial elements. Maybe this one feels different because the Cowboy defense has been one of college football’s best throughout 2021. Or because Oklahoma’s offense looked so pedestrian against the two most talented defenses the Sooners have faced (and OSU’s defense is better than Baylor’s or Iowa State’s). Much of this season has felt like 2011 all over again, and that Bedlam affair didn’t go well for Oklahoma at all. It was a wretched conclusion to an extremely promising season that went off the rails late. This is OSU’s best team since that Cowboy squad, which also lost a close and controversial game at Iowa State before throttling OU and winning its only Big 12 title. It’s 2021, but this year just feels too familiar.
Final: Oklahoma State 23, Oklahoma 17
There hasn’t been a game all year long I’ve waffled on as much as this game. On paper, the result should be pretty straightforward. Oklahoma State has by far the best unit in the game with their defense, and the Sooners have struggled to move the ball with any consistency the past two weeks against two excellent defenses. The Cowboy offense is nothing to write home about, but they’re far more consistent than the Sooners and should be able to get the job done. However, this is still Bedlam. Lincoln Riley has owned Mike Gundy (and Jim Knowles) every time he’s been on the opposing sideline, and the bulletin board material this week has been flowing out of Stillwater like the adult beverages on a Saturday afternoon at Eskimo Joe’s. The Sooners will take the field on Saturday fired up and very aware of every single word Spencer Sanders said to the media this week, and might even be able to match the emotion the spurned Cowboys will be playing with in what could be the final Bedlam contest ever played at Boone Pickens Stadium. All told, I still think the Cowboys will pull it out, but if Caleb Williams can be special on Saturday, the Sooners could find themselves right back in the middle of the College Football Playoff picture.
Final: Oklahoma State 17, Oklahoma 13
All week long the feel has been that Oklahoma State is just the better team. And truthfully, they have been. What the Cowboys have done defensively has been incredibly impressive, and when paired with the Sooners’ lapses in offensive production, it seems like the stage is more than set for Mike Gundy to get his third Bedlam win. If this was Monday, Oklahoma State would have been the pick. But as the week has progressed, the Cowboys have continued to provide extra motivation to the Sooners for reasons that are hard to comprehend — the headliner being OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders saying he knows that the Pokes are going to win, and that when they do, he doesn’t want to hear talk of the rivalry’s history. The team that does things like this often has it blow up in their face. (Shades of Florida going into last year’s Cotton Bowl come to mind.) It isn’t very analytical, and nearly entirely a gut feel, but it feels like Oklahoma is going to be playing more level-headed on Saturday. The Baylor loss, perhaps, humbled them. They were nothing but complimentary of Sanders and the Cowboys lethal defense earlier in the week. The mindset just seems right going in, and that could be all the difference. Oklahoma gets the job done in a Bedlam classic at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Final: Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma State 24