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Carlson: Do these Bedlam football numbers — 89-18-7 — mean anything to OU or OSU players?

NORMAN — Notable numbers abound in Bedlam.

16-13: the score of OSU’s shocking come-from-behind win at OU in 2001.

55 and 261: the carries and rushing yards Steve Owens had in OU’s 1969 win.

12-0: the score of OSU’s 1995 win, its first Bedlam triumph in 19 years.

46: the yardage on Tim Lasher’s late game-winning field goal in OU’s comeback win in 1983.

The rich history of this series is littered with digits that immediately spark memories in Sooners and Cowboys alike. And yet, there are a couple digits that rise to the top in importance and impact.


That’s the all-time series record, the Sooners on the high side, the Cowboys on the low. Those are numbers OU fans love to share and OSU fans loathe to hear. Because even as this rivalry has gotten more competitive and increasingly important over the past few decades, the Sooners have only cemented their dominance.

They ride into Saturday night’s showdown on a five-game Bedlam winning streak.

This series has been a boon for the Sooners, a bugaboo for the Cowboys.

But for the players — you know, the ones who will actually determine what happens Saturday night — does any of that carry weight? Is it a confidence boost for the Sooners? Is it a dark cloud over the Cowboys?

Players on both sides say no.

“I think if you get all caught up in that and everything, then you don’t really perform to your best,” Cowboy center Ry Schneider said. “You’ve got to kind of attack it like it’s a normal game — a normal game against a great opponent — and try to bring your best game.”

Sooner center Creed Humphrey said, “We don’t really put too much emphasis on it just because it’s a new year. It’s two brand new teams. We’re not the same team we were last year or the year before. It’s different players out there, different game plans, different teams.”

All that sounds reasonable, but players on both sides who have lived this rivalry. Some, like Schneider and Humphrey, were raised in this state. They saw Bedlam as kids, then as recruits. They have a long view of this rivalry. But even players who came here from other states have seen it up close in recent years.

All of them know how these games usually go.

“Young people nowadays, they have short memories,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said. “They live on their phones. They get information instantly. They move on from one thing to the next.”

Lest you think that wishful thinking from the coach on the wrong end of Bedlam history …

“I honestly don’t know that it does,” Sooner coach Lincoln Riley said when I asked him if Sooner success in Bedlam benefited his players. “The games are so different, and the matchups are so different. There’s been different coaches, different coordinators, different guys have key positions.

“There’s just so much that changes year to year.”

And still, OU’s Bedlam success has continued almost unabated. In the last 15 years, since Gundy took over the Cowboys and ushered in OSU’s golden age, the Sooners have lost only twice, once to the Cowboys’ lone Big 12 champion team and once because Bob Stoops decided to punt again.

So, basically, it took two extraordinary circumstances during that time for OSU to win Bedlam.

Maybe that doesn’t change the outcome of games, but you have to think it’s somewhere in the back of players’ minds.

“If you sat there and you had to choose, ‘Do I want more guys on my roster that have had experience winning this game versus losing?’” Riley said, “of course that. But … is that the difference?

“I have a hard time seeing that.”

Fair enough.

But in a close game, which this year is likely to be, when the smallest of things can be the difference, every Sooner on the roster will be armed with the knowledge they know how to win games in this rivalry. They’ve done it before. They can do it again.

No Cowboy on the current roster has won Bedlam, so the opposite is true for them.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie and say I haven’t thought of those games in the past,” Cowboy receiver Dillon Stoner said. “I don’t like to live in the past or think about the past, but that’s something in the back of my mind.

“Something that just adds more to it for guys that have been around here for awhile.”

Maybe Sooner successes have created motivation for the Cowboys.

Maybe Cowboy struggles have created overconfidence in the Sooners.

Who knows?

It’s anyone’s guess, really, what the players will be thinking Saturday night and whether it will have any impact on how the most notable numbers in this series have changed come Sunday morning.

Will it be 90-18-7?

Or 89-19-7?

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or Like her at, follow her at, and support her work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

Related Photos
<strong>Lincoln Riley is 3-0 in Bedlam games as OU's head coach. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Lincoln Riley is 3-0 in Bedlam games as OU's head coach. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Lincoln Riley is 3-0 in Bedlam games as OU's head coach. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Lincoln Riley is 3-0 in Bedlam games as OU's head coach. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Lincoln Riley is 3-0 in Bedlam games as OU's head coach. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›