NORMAN â€” At the turn of the decade, playing Oklahoma always brought out the best in Oklahoma State.
One year after taking the eventual national champion Sooners to the wire in Stillwater in 2000, Rashaun Woods and Co. took down OU in Norman. Then in 2002, the Cowboys hammered OU, at one point leading 35-6.
But ever since, Bedlam has been bringing out the best in the Sooners.
Heading into Saturday's Stillwater showdown, OU has now won seven straight, the Sooners' longest winning streak in the series since winning 15 in a row between 1977-91.
â€œI guess it's just one of those deals where the whole rivalry and playing in-state and having to go against a team every year that's been pretty danged good,â€ said OU right tackle Eric Mensik. â€œAnd they've been good the last several years.
â€œWe know we have to step up our game.â€
Coaches and players suggest that's as big a reason as any as to why the Sooners have been saving their best for Bedlam. The last several years, OSU has been one of the top teams on OU's schedule. No longer is Bedlam a game to overlook. It's a game to circle on the calendar.
â€œThey have had our attention throughout the year that this would be a big game,â€ admitted OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. â€œWe've thought the last few years to have a chance to win this game, that we've needed to practice well, that it was going to be a great challenge, that we would need to be at our best to win. And we've done that.
â€œThis is going to be another great challenge. I think our team embraces the challenge.â€
The Sooners have been embracing OSU's challenge going back to 2003, when Les Miles' Cowboys rolled into Norman boasting back-to-back Bedlam wins and a No. 14 national ranking.
With ESPN GameDay on hand, OU dismantled the Pokes 52-9 in a much-anticipated matchup that turned into a mismatch.
â€œWe've played better, that's about all you can say,â€ said OU coach Bob Stoops. â€œPlayed well in those games and I'm sure we've had some good fortune along with it.â€
At times, good fortune has played its part, especially in Stillwater.
In 2004, OU hung on 38-35 after OSU's Jason Ricks pushed a 49-yard field goal attempt wide left in the waning seconds.
In 2006, the Sooners outlasted the Pokes 27-21 thanks in large part to Zac Robinson's lost fumble at the goal line on fourth down.
And in 2008, OU enjoyed a couple of breaks, notably Sam Bradford's pass that grazed through the hands of Manny Johnson and into the arms of tight end Jermaine Gresham in stride for a 73-yard touchdown.
But besides having good fortune, OU has also been dominant, posting an average margin of victory of almost 23 points during the seven-game winning streak. And no game underscores the Sooners' latest run of Bedlam supremacy more than last year's tilt.
The 6-5 Sooners were coming off a four-touchdown shellacking at Texas Tech. OSU, meanwhile, was 9-2, ranked No. 12 and playing for BCS bowl berth.
Adding injury to insult, the week of the game, the Sooners lost star left tackle Trent Williams to a freak concussion, forcing them to swing Mensik from backup tight end to starting tackle to patch up an offensive line decimated by injuries.
OU, however, not only prevailed, the Sooners demolished OSU, 27-0.
â€œYou're always going to bring your best to the table when you're playing your archrival,â€ said Sooner defensive end Jeremy Beal.
â€œMaybe that's why we play our best against OSU.â€
SEVEN IN A ROW
The Sooners have regained command in the Bedlam series:
* 2003: OU 52, OSU 9
* 2004: OU 38, OSU 35
* 2005: OU 42, OSU 14
* 2006: OU 27, OSU 21
* 2007: OU 49, OSU 17
* 2008: OU 61, OSU 41
* 2009: OU 27, OSU 0