Expect bedlam Saturday in Stillwater

James Hanna's 76-yard touchdown catch and run clinched the Sooners' 47-41 over OSU in 2010. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Like all good legends, it's unknown who first coined the series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as "Bedlam."

What is known is that the roots of the rivalry trace back to wrestling. Sometime around World War II, after an exceptionally wild dual between the Sooners and Cowboys, a newspaper reporter is said to have walked out of Gallagher Hall and declared, "It's bedlam in there!"

The title stuck, and before long every sporting event between the two schools became known as "Bedlam."

Merriam-Webster defines bedlam as a "scene or state of wild uproar and confusion." The history of the rivalry certainly fits that description.

Intercollege athletics is loaded with many great rivalries. North Carolina-Duke in basketball; Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan and OU-Texas in football.

But few, if any, have transcended multiple sports like the Bedlam series, which got its start in the fiery wresting bouts of the 1930s and 1940s, hashed out in front of standing-room only crowds. The first meet occurred in 1920, with the Oklahoma A&M Aggies prevailing, 50-0.

OSU owns a decisive edge in the wrestling series, though it's worth noting the Sooners have as many national titles in wresting as they do football. The Cowboys, however, own a national-record 34 team titles.

Over the years, the intensity of the rivalry has transferred over to the mainstream sports.

Bedlam baseball became so heated in the 1980s that multiple brawls broke out between the two prominent programs. One specific melee remains a YouTube sensation, with almost 500,000 views.

As both football programs struggled in the '90s, Bedlam basketball became the hottest ticket in the state, with Eddie Sutton squaring off against Kelvin Sampson before perennial sellout crowds at Gallagher-Iba or Lloyd Noble arenas.

But in the last decade, Bedlam has been all about football. And the games have been, well, bedlam.

In 2000, Oklahoma's national championship dreams were nearly snuffed out by the 3-7 Cowboys, led by lame-duck coach Bob Simmons. The Sooners escaped with a 12-7 win, after Derrick Strait broke up a fourth-down pass attempt in the corner of the end zone.

In '01, the Sooners weren't so lucky. The Les Miles-coached Cowboys, who were four-touchdown underdogs, knocked off the fourth-ranked Sooners when freshman quarterback Josh Fields found Rashaun Woods for the game-winning, 14-yard touchdown pass.

OSU won again in '02, before the Sooners regained control of the series, winning eight straight. The last four meetings in Stillwater, however, have gone down to the wire.

A 49-yard missed field goal in the final seconds in '04. An incompletion in the end zone as time expired in '06. Wild shootouts in '08 and '10.

Who knows what this game will bring Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium. But one thing is for sure. It will be bedlam.

Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at trotterjake@gmail.com. and look for answers every Friday.

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