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Bedlam Finally Living Up To Its Name

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The sight of jubilant Oklahoma Sooners players dancing around Owen Field to House of Pain's "Jump Around" told you everything you need to know about the Bedlam rivalry in 2012.

This ain't the Bedlam series of old.

For decades, this rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State has been defined by Oklahoma's undisputed dominance of the series. Coming into Saturday's game in Norman, OU owned an 82-17-7 lead in the series. Most college football fans wouldn't even call that a rivalry.

For example, if you were born after the Cowboys' upset the No. 5 Sooners in 1976, you would have been 19 years old before you ever saw an Oklahoma State victory in the series. The Baby Boomer generation had it even worse. Including that 1976 victory, OSU won three times from 1946 until 1995.

But based on the celebration surrounding Oklahoma's 51-48 thrilling overtime victory over Oklahoma State, it's obvious the rivalry has completely changed. Oklahoma State is no longer the Sooners' whipping boy. It's a legitimate contender every season for Big 12 titles, and even national titles.

In previous years, Oklahoma fans and players might have breathed a sigh of relief after escaping an embarrassing loss against an inferior opponent. There was no sigh of relief Saturday night. After Brennan Clay broke through Shamiel Gary's tackle attempt and danced into the end zone for the winning score, pandemonium broke out in the stands.

OU fans are the ones who know best that Oklahoma State has become a yearly force to be reckoned with. Just ask any Sooners fan that watched a Les Miles-coached OSU team stun the Sooners in Norman in 2001, or saw the Cowboys deliver a brutal head-kicking last season in Stillwater. The rest of the nation may scoff at a series record that now stand at 83-17-7 in OU's favor, but Sooners fans know better.

And OSU fans do as well. No longer is there simply hatred for the Sooners in Stillwater; there's genuine hope of a victory each season, no matter where the game is played. OSU head coach Mike Gundy has raised up much more than just a flash-in-the-pan success story during his time in Stillwater; he's raised a program. Not only has he raised a program, but he's raised the OSU football program to a level it's never been before.

Oklahoma State isn't devoid of history. Many great players have passed through Stillwater on their way to NFL greatness. Names such as Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, Terry Miller, Neil Armstrong (no, not THAT Neil Armstrong), Bob Fenimore, Kevin Williams, Leslie O'Neil, and many others have made OSU a launching pad to bigger and greater things.

Despite all those great names, OSU has never experienced the kind of success they've had the past several seasons under Gundy—it's unfamiliar territory for everyone familiar with the Cowboys.

That unfamiliar territory extends into the biggest game in the state of Oklahoma. Every season, no matter what kind of success the Sooners and Cowboys have had up to that point in the season, Bedlam is always met with high expectations from both crimson and cream and orange and black.

Today, the rivalry is experiencing something it has never experienced before: parity. Both teams want to win, but more importantly, both teams know they have a shot to win. This isn't the way things have always been in Oklahoma, but it's the way they're going to be for quite some time.

Bedlam has always been a rivalry because of the high emotions surrounding the two schools. Now, the term rivalry is moving onto the football field as well, and that's a grand thing for all involved.

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