3 Bedlam Takeaways: Oklahoma State’s Defense Tightens The Clamps, Effectively Ends Sooners’ Playoff Hopes

Saturday, November 27th 2021, 11:19 pm

By: Nate Kotisso


“Anything can happen in Bedlam.”

It’s hard to track down the human being who uttered or wrote these words for the first time. If I had the chance, I’d like to have a quick chat with them on what words mean.

We read or hear this phrase every time the Sooners and Cowboys do battle on the football field: The TV broadcast, on talk radio shows, and now, this thing you’ve decided to read. 

The Bedlam Series is more of a lowercase “b” for bedlam and lowercase “s” for series. The Sooners have won 90 of the first 115 meetings against the Cowboys, including the last six in a row. For every OSU win in the series, OU has five.

The series isn’t bedlam in its truest form, but Saturday night’s game was an outlier. Bedlam 2021 lost its ever-loving mind.

Oklahoma State, with a Big 12 title game appearance to come next week, defeated Oklahoma 37-33 for its first win over the Sooners in seven years.

First Takeaway: Seeing Red

Oklahoma State entered at 10-1 thanks in large part to its incredible defense. They’re experienced. They’re physical. They’re holding Big 12 opponents to hilariously low scores.

The Cowboy defense caused more havoc Saturday with six sacks. They set a new single-season sack record (49) with at least two more games on their schedule.

If there is a weakness to OSU’s defense, you’ll have to really look for one. One does exist, though.

The Cowboys are not very good when it comes to playing defense in the red zone. OSU has only allowed opponents in the red zone 23 times entering Saturday but opponents have scored either a touchdown or field goal 20 of 23 times for an 87 percent success rate.

OSU’s rate is ranked 97th-best in the 130-team FBS. For comparing purposes, OU’s opponent red zone scoring rate (35 scores out of 42 total – 83.3 percent) is good for 69th-best in the FBS. Iowa State’s 73.3 percent is tops in the Big 12 and 12th-best in the country.

OU drew up a wise gameplan. Quarterback Caleb Williams and the Sooner offense orchestrated multiple drives early with the goal of tiring out the Cowboy defense. OU’s first three trips inside OSU’s 20-yard line ended with two touchdown throws by Williams and a chip shot field goal for Gabe Brkic.

The problem? Even with Williams’ wild late charge with less than a minute to go, the Sooners did not return to OSU’s 20-yard line for the rest of the game.

When tested, Oklahoma State’s defense reached back and found another gear. 

Second Takeaway: Isn’t That Special

Seven years ago, a special teams play by OSU’s Tyreek Hill spurred the Cowboys to victory in an unlikely overtime win in Norman.

Several special teams plays were of serious consequence Saturday night, starting with another Cowboy returner.

Brennan Presley, a sophomore and former Bixby Spartan, answered Oklahoma’s 15-play touchdown drive to tie the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for six. Presley became an instant Cowboy hero.

However, in a sick twist of fate early in the third quarter, Presley went back for a punt return inside OSU’s 10-yard line, but he muffed it. The ball was recovered for an Oklahoma touchdown and a two-score lead.

In an even sicker twist of fate, Oklahoma punt returner Eric Gray muffed his own punt inside the 5-yard line. Cowboys running back Jaylen Warren punched it in from a yard out in what is now known as the game-winning score.

What was great about this game is that there were so many important plays that it made you reevaluate those plays as new ones developed. Maybe that interception or penalty was huge in the moment, but over time, something came along and mattered a little more.

This is how a game with a conference title appearance on the line should be.

Third Takeaway: Bedlam Outside State Lines

Here’s what I wrote on the heels of the Cowboys losing to the Sooners in Norman last season.

“There are a lot of what-if’s that can be brought up with regards to Oklahoma State. What if Spencer Sanders didn’t miss more than half of the game due to injury? What if Chuba Hubbard wasn’t less than himself against the Sooners’ defense? What if OSU’s offensive line wasn’t an unfortunate game of musical chairs?
The win is obviously huge for Oklahoma. Bragging rights hold some level of importance in this rivalry, but it’s important to remember that the Cowboys have only won this game four times since the year 2000.
This was supposed to be “the year” for Oklahoma State. The year to beat Oklahoma, the year to win the Big 12, the year for Hubbard to hold the Heisman Memorial Trophy in his hands at year’s end.
Will a dream season like 2011 ever happen again for Oklahoma State football under Mike Gundy?”

Related From 2020: 3 Sooner Takeaways: Sooners Assert Dominance Over Cowboys In Yet Another ‘Bedlam’

Well, duh, Mr. Writer Person Man. All you had to do was wait a year. Jeez.

Let’s set the scene for Oklahoma. This was the most-hyped Sooner team in quite a while and it will end in several weeks with no national title, no Big 12 title and rumors swirling about the future of head coach Lincoln Riley in Norman.

With a win over Baylor next week, the Cowboys now seem to have an inside track to a potential spot in the 4-team College Football Playoff. They needed some craziness to happen Saturday and Michigan happily obliged in its win over Ohio State.

Third-ranked Alabama squeaked by archrival Auburn but certainly appear to be running into a buzzsaw with the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in next week’s SEC Championship Game. Additionally, the Cowboys sure could use an assist from future Big 12 opponent Houston if the Cougars can find a way to take down fellow future Big 12 opponent Cincinnati in the American Athletic title game.

Some chips still need to fall into place, but again, Oklahoma State would have to win its own ‘ship to stay in the hunt.


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