Another Bedlam beckons, calling for acute focus and analysis on the matchups.
Offense and defense.
Kickers and returners.
Big boys and ball boys masquerading as receivers.
And the coaches — don't forget the coaches — who might be under the microscope more than ever in this rivalry.
When talent is a wash — and it is now in this series, as the pro scouts passing through both locales regularly attest — coaches often step into the spotlight, which we've seen on display each of the past two years.
That adage that players win? Yeah, it's mostly true.
But the headset and visor crews put those players in position to win in the biggest games. Tweak the plan. Exploit strengths and weaknesses. Break out new looks.
Sometimes it's a simple twist.
Sometimes it's radical, like Tavon Austin lining up at running back.
Or like the stuff we've seen on both sides of Bedlam of late.
Bedlam 2010: the Sooners installed the “50 Defense” the week of the game and used it to interrupt OSU's rhythm in a 47-41 win. The Cowboys' potent offense produced two long scoring drives, but otherwise scuffled by their standards, with 14 points coming on defensive and special teams touchdowns. The 50, which features three defensive linemen — a tackle and two ends — and drops eight into coverage, except on blitzes. OU managed to bottle up the Cowboys run game, holding Kendall Hunter to a season-low 55 rushing yards. Overall, the Sooners limited Dana Holgorsen's highflying attack to a season-low 19 first downs and 379 yards.
“Any time you're dropping eight in coverage, you have to stuff the running game,” OU linebacker Travis Lewis after the game. “We pretty much made them one dimensional.”
Bedlam 2011: OSU brought the nation's No. 2-ranked passing offense into the game … and ran the ball. Over and over, gashing the Sooners for 278 yards on the ground and producing two 100-yard rushers in Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. Randle went for 151 yards and two touchdowns and Smith added 119 yards and two more scores, reaping the rewards of a mismatch in the trenches.
The commitment to the run was a sort of pre-emptive chess move, anticipating something special from the Sooners in pass defense. The week before, in a double-overtime loss at Iowa State, the Cowboys managed just 60 yards on the ground.
But it was also a belief in their own ability to take it to the Sooners. On 33 carries, Cowboy rushers were never dropped for a loss.
“Guys did a great job up front,” OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said afterward. “And I thought our running backs really took to heart what we talked about, which was running downhill. And if they got touched, it was arm tackles.”
Bedlam 2012: TBD.
Coaches won't publicly claim credit for wins, but the inferences and the influences are usually obvious. Why else spend all those hours dissecting game tape (DVDs) and plotting and scheming in staff meetings? And why else pay them millions?
Coaches from both sides privately took great pride in their chess moves in the past two Bedlam games.
From OSU's vantage point, there's much to consider, reflecting first back on the run-game success from a year ago. The Sooners have been gouged on the ground in back-to-back games by Baylor and West Virginia.
The Cowboys' rout of Texas Tech also will give OU a lot to look at, from the two-quarterback shuffle — and success — of Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh to the deep-threat return of Isaiah Anderson. There are also reports that OSU had a two-minute offense in place for quarterback Wes Lunt if needed Saturday, which it wasn't.
One more thought to ponder entering this Bedlam week: don't sleep on the Cowboys passing prowess in this game either. While injuries have been the story at quarterback, OSU's three-headed tandem of Chelf-Walsh-Lunt have thrown for more yards (3,370) and touchdowns (26) than OU's Landry Jones (3,245 and 24).
So, with another Bedlam on deck, whose move is it?