Oklahoma and Oklahoma State fans will both tell you that the Bedlam rivalry is as big as it gets. But, when the Sooners and Cowboys square off on Saturday night on national television, will the rest of the country have the same respect for this rivalry?
The answer is yes. The only other question is: How does Bedlam compare to the game's greatest rivalries?
If the Cowboys can continue their newly found success, and even beat the Sooners a few times, this rivalry could be second to none.
What makes a great college football rivalry? Some will say it takes a little disdain—much like Alabama and Auburn have for each other. But, Oklahomans aren't too big on killing trees.
Others will say you need two teams that play for high stakes on a regular basis, like Oklahoma and Nebraska did for the better part of three decades.
Bedlam now appears to have both qualities.
It's no secret that there is little love lost between the two schools. Walk into a bar in Norman and tell people you are from Stillwater. Then you will know just how much hate there is for Oklahoma State.
If you want to start an argument in Stillwater, just wear your OU apparel. Sooner fans call the reaction jealousy; for Oklahoma State people, Sooners are not even considered welcome in Payne County.
There's no doubt the hate has always been there. The difference now is that the two football teams actually have championships on the line.
Oklahoma has shown that it can sustain success. If the Cowboys can do the same, the Bedlam rivalry will move to a new level. For decades, Oklahomans have wondered what it would be like if Bedlam was for a conference or national championship. That wish has become a reality.
For the second straight year, the winner on Saturday will wear the crown as the Big 12 champion and make an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. And the loser? Well, let's just say they will hear about it for a while.
A couple of unexpected losses have kept this game from being a semifinal for the BCS title game, but that doesn't change the fact that this will be the biggest game in Oklahoma State history. For the Sooners, the only thing worse than not winning a conference title would be seeing the Cowboys win it.
Other than the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn, there are few in-state rivalries that have both conference and national implications. There were a few big games between UCLA and USC, but that's all ancient history. Duke and North Carolina is a big one, but...oh, wait a minute. That's basketball.
Texas has fallen on hard times, which makes Bedlam bigger than the Red River Rivalry. Well, maybe we shouldn't go that far, but that's how the rest of the nation is beginning to feel.
Scandal has hurt the Ohio State and Michigan rivalry for now—as is the case with Miami and Florida State.
The Georgia and Florida matchup falls a little short as far as national impact is concerned. Meanwhile, USC and Notre Dame have become irrelevant.
No school has a meaningful rivalry within their own state that matters to the rest of the country. The truth is that the in-state rivalries have something that the border wars don't: hatred.
To add to the mix, this rivalry has a unique twist. Everywhere you look in Oklahoma, you see what Oklahomans like to call "divided" houses.
This makes a living room in Oklahoma a dangerous place to be come Saturday night.
Husbands are Sooners and wives are Cowgirls. Girlfriends wear orange while their boyfriends bleed crimson. It's total chaos. It's cats and dogs living together.
Simply put, it's Bedlam.
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