Posted on October 31, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Bedlam Series is one of the best rivalries in all of college sports. Throughout its history, it the Oklahoma Sooners have dominated the competition (86-18-7). But in recent years, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have been much more competitive.
Being a rivalry game, it is considered a must-win game for either school. But for the Sooners, the stakes are much, much higher.
Tuesday night, the CFB Playoff Committee named Oklahoma the No. 5 team in the nation behind Clemson, Notre Dame, Alabama, and Georgia. If they are going to stay ahead of Ohio State (No. 6) and Penn State (No. 7) and get ahead of Clemson or Notre Dame, they have to keep winning. A win over a top-15 team like the Cowboys would look great on their resume.
As far as Oklahoma State is concerned, the next best thing to playing in the CFB Playoffs themselves would be to knock the hated-Sooners out of contention. At No. 11, the odds they can make the final four are slim. But if they don’t beat the Sooners, they become non-existent.
Both teams are powered by high-caliber offenses. As much as defensive coordinators hate to hear it, one thing can be said about this game. It is going to be a high-scoring affair that may be won by whoever scores last.
So—who will it be?
This is a tough one to call. Both teams have stellar quarterbacks who are the unquestioned leaders of their team. Baker Mayfield (171-236 for 2628 yards, 23 touchdowns, and three interceptions) and Mason Rudolph (181-276 for 2866 yards, 22 touchdowns, and five interceptions) are two of the best field generals in the game today.
Neither coach would hesitate to put the ball in their hands with the game on the line. But the question then becomes whether they have the playmakers the need to make the magic happen when they need it most.
The edge in that regard goes to the Cowboys. Sophomore running back Justice Hill is an exceptional talent, and one of the more exciting young runners in college football today. Senior wide receiver James Washington has the hands, the speed, and the instincts needed to make the big play when his team needs it most.
This is not to say that the Sooners don’t have talent on offense. But they don’t have any one player that stands out. Their three-headed backfield (Trey Sermon, Abdul Adams, and Rodney Anderson) is good, but no one stands out as a clutch player.
In past years, Mayfield had one wide receiver that he just clicked with from the beginning of the season (Sterling Shepherd and Dede Westbrook). This season, he doesn’t really have that one, stand-out receiver. His tight end, Mark Andrews, is leading the team in receptions (36).
But it is a wide receiver, freshman CeeDee Lamb that leads the team in receiving touchdowns (6). While he is good, he isn’t quite exceptional yet.
The easy thing to do would be to say this will come down to whoever has the ball last—but it will not. Both teams will put up a ton of points, but the Cowboys are going to put up more. Ever since the near-loss to Baylor, Oklahoma’s defense has been vulnerable against the pass.
Oklahoma State is very good at passing and will look to take advantage of that vulnerability early and often. But Baker Mayfield is a gamer. He will not allow the Sooners to get too far behind (which they will not).
But in the end, Rudolph has better tools at his disposal.
Oklahoma State is a 2.5-point favorite. Give the points and take the Cowboys, and don’t worry. They’ll win by seven.