Bedlam football: Picking a winner, six weeks out
Let the hype begin for Bedlam football 2011. I know, some don’t want to hear it. Purists, who don’t believe in looking ahead, except that’s one of the beauties of life; anticipation can get us through a lot of humdrum. Sooner fans, who don’t want to believe their eyes when they see OSU play and don’t want to believe their ears when they hear the Cowboys are ranked fourth. Cowboy fans, who don’t want the scrutiny that comes with a team on a collision course for the national semifinals.
But hype is fun. And just so you know, it’s nothing new. I can’t be a primary source to anything before 1971. Pre-’70s, I have to depend on scholarship. But from the ’70s on, I can vouch for. I was there. And I promise you, hype began early for the 1971 Game of the Century. Four, five, six weeks before Thanksgiving, an Oklahoma-Nebraska showdown for No. 1 seemed likely. Nebraska replaced Notre Dame as the No. 1 team in the first regular-season polls, and OU ascended to No. 2 after a 48-27 rout of Texas on Oct. 9. There was talk and analysis of how the Sooners would fare against the Huskers. And it didn’t start when the turkey was being stuffed.
What was good for ’71 is good for us 40 years later. Let’s hype what could be a Big Bowl semifinal on Oklahoma soil, Stillwater to be exact. The Dec. 3 game at Boone Pickens Stadium could be a battle of 11-0 teams.
So here goes. Each week, I’ll analyze the Bedlam matchup, based on what we’ve just learned about the teams.
Going into this season, I proclaimed I would pick the Sooners to win Bedlam and wouldn’t budge from that until OSU actually won the game. The last two Bedlams in Stillwater, the Cowboys have scored 41 points. And lost both, 61-41 in 2008 and 47-41 in 2010. After those two Les Miles anvils, 2001 and 2002, the Sooners have rebounded to again command the series.
So all season, I think OU’s been the clear Bedlam favorite. But driving home from Austin, Texas, last Sunday, I realized this was the first time I thought the Cowboys might win. OSU didn’t play its A game at Royal-Memorial Stadium, yet won 38-26. Wasn’t dominant. Wasn’t pretty. Wasn’t even efficient. But the Cowboys were resourceful. It was a 12-point victory, on the road, against a top-25 team.
Meanwhile, the Sooners were sleep-walking in Lawrence, Kan., leading the hapless Jayhawks just 27-17 at halftime. OU was dominant defensively in the second half and eventually won 47-17. But the red-zone problems continued for OU. The Sooners won in Stillwater last year with four field goals and five touchdowns. This OSU defense is better; I don’t see nine scoring chances for OU. Let’s say the Sooners get six or seven. I don’t recommend half of those forays ending in field goals.
Meanwhile, in Austin, the Cowboys displayed some kicking-game problems. They allowed Fozzy Whittaker to return a kickoff for a touchdown, just like the Sooners did the previous week. Whittaker had some other big returns, and OSU muffed a punt, setting up a 15-yard Texas TD drive. OSU needs to win the kicking game in Bedlam. The offenses appear about even; OU has the superior defense. OSU has to win the kicking game.
So if you made me pick now, I’d still go with the Sooners. Probably 42-41, in keeping with recent trends. But we’ve got six weeks to move the needle. Let the hype begin.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients