The celebration at Owen Field early Saturday evening was as big as it’s been after any Oklahoma victory in years.
Running back Brennan Clay’s 18-yard touchdown to give the Sooners a 51-48 win over Oklahoma State in overtime sent the place into a state of euphoria.
OSU coach Mike Gundy noticed it.
“I can’t speak for them, but it was a big celebration,” he said. “I think now there is a respect that is present now that maybe hasn’t been before.”
These late November or early December Bedlam meetings have become some of college football’s most fiercely contested games.
The Sooners’ victory on Saturday was their 83rd in the 107 games with the Cowboys. However, OU’s last two victories in the series were in games that came down to the final play. The gap in between is the 44-10 thumping OU suffered last season in Stillwater.
OU certainly acted like it had won a game it would never forget.
“You always remember those tight games, you always remember those games where you come from behind and get a victory,” said OU quarterback Landry Jones, who will finish his career with a 3-1 mark against the Cowboys.
Players remember games where it was a non-stop barrage of big plays. The 2012 version of Bedlam was like a “Rocky” movie. The haymakers were thrown early, and landed early and often.
OU quarterback Landry Jones threw for 500 yards. Wide receiver Justin Brown, Jalen Saunders and Kenny Stills all had more than 100 receiving yards.
Once again, OSU’s offense remained a mystery to the Sooners. Running back Joseph Randle rushed for 116 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Clint Chelf rushed for another 63 and threw for 253 yards with 150 going to wide receiver Josh Stewart.
There was never a strong sense that either team was in control until Clay crossed the goal line in overtime.
OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had to suffer through it. Twice the Sooners tied the game and twice his unit gave up almost immediate touchdowns after it.
Chelf hit Stewart on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of third quarter.
After Jalen Saunders’ 81-yard touchdown return tied it at 38-38, the Cowboys ripped off a 7-play, 77-yard touchdown drive that consisted of six running plays and a screen pass.
“It was a roller coaster today,” he said. “We got the game tied. The first play of the second half, we’ve got a safety (Tony Jefferson) that is nowhere to be found, and they go 75, so we lose the momentum. We tie the game back up finally. I think our offense went three-and-out one possession. They went tempo on us and ran the zone play virtually four times in a row and scored.
“The game shifted. We could never sustain any momentum. It’s not going to be perfect playing these teams. They are too good offensively.”
That’s why the Sooners celebrated so much when they won anyway. Bedlam was one wild ride.
The hard part for OU is that it has to regroup after an incredibly emotional game and play the regular season finale at 11 a.m. Saturday at TCU.
The Sooners can still secure a share of the Big 12 championship with a victory. The title could be all theirs if Kansas State were to stumble against Texas.
Getting ready for the emotional challenge is going to be one of the toughest tasks OU has faced all season.
OU coach Bob Stoops was already hinting at that after the game.
“Great to win, and we got one more coming next week,” he said.
Bedlam was so action packed that playing the following week is going to seem anticlimactic.