Bedlam has arrived. Motivation is not in short supply on either side, not in any season, but especially with the conference title and Fiesta Bowl on the line.
I know, I know. The Cowboys already have secured at least a Big 12 co-championship. But it will be a hollow honor if OSU ties OU and Kansas State atop the standings. The Cowboys have been there, done that before, and all they got for the trouble of tying OU and Colorado for the 1976 Big Eight crown was a Tangerine Bowl bid.
So lighting a fire is not a problem for Mike Gundy and Bob Stoops this week. The flames will burn 24/7 until about 11 p.m. Saturday.
But just in case Stoops seeks a little extra kick, here it is. Stoops can tell his ballplayers that everyone's against them. And he won't be bluffing.
The Stoops Troops and their legions desire an OU win. Same as the Fighting Gundys and their long-suffering faithful crave an OSU triumph.
But everyone else? Everyone with a thread of neutrality? A Cowboy victory is preferred. A Cowboy victory is needed.
The state. The conference. The sport. The bowls. The bowl-haters.
All would benefit from an OSU conquest.
For this reason. This is a heck of a rivalry considering the same side always wins. The Cowboys have won just 16 times in more than a century of contests.
That's more lopsided than Texas-Rice, or Tennessee-Vanderbilt, or Washington-Washington State.
Deleting the disastrous four years of Howard Schnellenberger and John Blake, the Sooners have lost Bedlam thrice in the last 45 years. Lost just five times since World War II.
And yet Bedlam has not only endured, it's thrived. National acclaim (GameDay's showed up four times in the previous eight Bedlams). Regional acclaim (moved to this December to fill the void of no Big 12 Championship Game).
Where would this rivalry go if the Cowboys started winning every once in awhile? It's already reached Michigan State-Michigan, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Texas A&M-Texas status.
Could it approach Alabama-Auburn?
Did you read what some of the Sooners said Saturday after beating Iowa State? That Bedlam has caught the Texas game as OU's biggest rivalry?
And even though fans don't want to admit it, their actions say different. Example: an OU fan, a woman probably about 35, walked past some Iowa State trainers coming off Owen Field and said, “Thanks for beating OSU.”