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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Oklahoma v. Oklahoma State Football Rivalry Soon to End


The Bedlam rivalry is set to end once the Sooners leave the Big 12. | Image by Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports

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The annual Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is the latest victim of college football’s conference realignment.

The two in-state rivals have met on the gridiron 116 times, with the first meeting in 1904 — three years before Oklahoma became a state. The schools have played each other for the past 112 years, making the Bedlam Series the nation’s second-longest current, uninterrupted college football rivalry.

However, the clock is ticking on the rivalry as both schools’ athletic directors told Action Network’s Brett McMurphy that the annual meeting on the gridiron will end once Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 Conference for the SEC in 2025.

“It (playing Oklahoma) presents logistical issues under our current (scheduling) structure,” Oklahoma State AD Chad Weiberg said. “We don’t have any openings to play them. We’re full. Unless there are significant undertakings to make the game happen, it can’t happen.”

Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione told McMurphy, “Oklahoma State has shown no interest to schedule any future games in football, so we’re moving on (with filling OU’s future nonconference openings).”

Oklahoma’s move to the SEC complicates both schools maintaining a constant Power Five nonconference opponent. Oklahoma State will continue to play nine Big 12 opponents each year, while Oklahoma will play nine SEC opponents annually once it joins the conference, along with Texas, in 2025.

That leaves only three openings on the schedule per season for each team. Typically, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State each schedule one Power Five nonconference opponent, leaving their final two spots open for non-Power Five opponents.

Both ADs told McMurphy their schools’ nonconference Power Five schedules are nearly complete for the next 15 years.

Oklahoma has home-and-home football series scheduled with Michigan (2025-26), Nebraska (2029-30), and Clemson (2035-36).

More recently, the SEC told Georgia to drop a scheduled game with Oklahoma in 2023 and ordered Tennessee to drop a planned 2024 game against Oklahoma.

In response, Oklahoma agreed to a home-and-home series this past week with SMU. The first game will be in Norman in 2023, with the second taking place in 2027 in Dallas.

Oklahoma State has home-and-home series scheduled with Arizona State (2022-23), Arkansas (2024, 2027, 2032-33), Oregon (2025-26), Alabama (2028-29), Nebraska (2034-35), and Colorado (2036-37).

Castiglione did add that he is hopeful the Sooners and Cowboys may play in football “down the road,” but he is not optimistic it will be anytime soon after Oklahoma joins the SEC in 2025.

If the two schools do renew their football series in the future, the game will likely be played in September instead of its traditional spot at the end of the regular season.

“It’s very difficult to predict the future of college athletics right now,” Weiberg said. “Would we have interest? Yes, when the logistics work out, but that appears to be well into the future.”

“It is disappointing,” he said of the series ending, adding it was “a part of the history of this state … To think about that coming to an end or some lengthy pause, up until a year ago was almost unfathomable.”

The Bedlam Series is the latest longtime rivalry impacted by conference realignment.

Other annual rivalries lost to conference realignment in recent years include Oklahoma-Nebraska, Missouri-Kansas, Pittsburgh-West Virginia, and Texas-Texas A&M. However, the Longhorns and Aggies will restart their rivalry once UT joins A&M in the SEC.

The two ADs did tell McMurphy they are confident the Bedlam Series will continue in all other sports except football. Still, the end of the rivalry on the gridiron will have the most significant impact on the state.

“(Bedlam ending) is one of the consequences of OU’s decision (to join the SEC),” Weiberg said. “It’s disappointing for the people of the state of Oklahoma.”    

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