10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 27-24 Victory in the Final Bedlam

STILLWATER — A running back with a -200 passer rating and a quarterback placing a punt on the 3-yard line? Smells like Bedlam.

Oklahoma State defeated Oklahoma 27-24 on Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. It puts an end to the series as the Sooners head to the SEC next season. Here are 10 thoughts from the game.

1. Squinky Switches Sides?

At the dwindling hour of life, Squinky turned to OU, smiled at all the good times the two had shared, then superkicked the Sooners’ heads off.

Squinky switched sides. He (or she, or they) didn’t want to go to the SEC. Squinky resides in Big 12 country.

There were two Squinky instances that would’ve, had this been any other time in existence, gone against the Pokes.

The first came midway through the fourth quarter. Dillon Gabriel was readying his offense shortly after the Cowboys took a 24-21 lead. As he was directing things, OU center Andrew Raym snapped the ball to an unexpecting Gabriel. It hit him in the shins, spurted forward, and Kody Walterscheid fell on the ball. That’s the type of stuff that happens to OSU.

The next instance came on the Sooners’ next possession, now down 27-21. Gabriel laid a ball into the Stillwater sky destined for Drake Stoops (who seemingly had 500 receiving yards on the day). True freshman Dylan Smith was in coverage. It looked as if Smith dragged Stoops to the ground on the sideline in the end zone.

Everyone drew breath. No one cheered. No one booed. No flags were thrown. It happened deep in the corner where a good chunk of the crowd in attendance couldn’t see. But Squinky could see, and Squinky chose the Pokes.

2. Ollie Grinds

Ollie Gordon’s game Saturday wasn’t as pretty as his past few have been, but it’s almost more impressive that after being college football’s darling the past few weeks that Gordon grinded out a solid performance.

He ran for only 137 yards against OU to go with a pair of touchdowns. It took him a career-high 33 carries to get there. He got banged up a little, staying down at the end of the second quarter, but then he got up and got back to work.

His first touchdown run was a thing of beauty. Kicking off the game’s scoring, Gordon hopped over some bodies in the hole before bouncing it to the outside and outrunning the OU defense to the pylon. 

From there, it was tough sledding — tough sledding that Gordon was game for. He only had two more runs of 10+ yards all day. Coming out of halftime after getting hurt, Gordon had a hard, 35-yard run on his second carry of the half. He then went on an eight-carry spree that saw him gain just 1.4 yards a carry. Then, boom, a 12-yard run followed by a one-yard touchdown.

So, yeah, while there is some glitz and glamor surrounding Gordon after the spree he has gone on, he can still use his 6-foot-1, 211-pound frame to grind down a defense and win less pretty.

(He shouldn’t be allowed to throw anymore, though).

3. The Drive

Down 21-17 with 12:42 to play, the Cowboys got the ball back … on their own 3-yard line.

Things were looking bleak, as OSU hadn’t scored a touchdown since the beginning of the second quarter, but then the Cowboys drove 97 yards on the Sooners to take a lead they wouldn’t give back.

The Sooners helped OSU on the drive, giving up 36 yards in penalties (including 35 of the first 41 yards of the drive). One penalty was a pass interference, that Brent Venables took umbrage with to the extent he was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct. Then OU turned an OSU 2nd-and-9 into a 2nd-and-4 with an offside. The Pokes then pushed the ball down to the 2-yard line where a defensive pass interference in the end zone set things up on the 1-yard line for Gordon to score.

Despite the self-inflicted Sooner wounds, Alan Bowman threw for 43 yards on the drive, and Gordon had runs of 5 and 12 yards before his 1-yard touchdown.

With the struggle moving the ball had become, it seemed highly improbable that would be the time the Pokes put it together, but they took advantage of the Sooners’ mishaps and made enough plays to do it and go down in OSU history.

4. Bedlam Hero Rashod Owens 

Rashod Owens made catches that defied the laws of physics Saturday, going for 136 receiving yards on 10 catches. 

On OSU’s first drive alone, Owens had three catches for 37 yards. One of those catches saw Owens knock a ball down (likely stopping an interception) and somehow catching the ball as he was falling to the turf.

Since stepping into OSU’s Z receiver spot for De’Zhaun Stribling, Owens now has a pair of 100-yard performances. Since Stribling’s injury, Owens has 33 catches for 408 yards.

It’s been easy to sort of forget about Owens over the years with him moving around so much and not really locking a starting role down, but Saturday he etched his name into Bedlam’s history by having an outstanding game in the series’ finale.

5. Two-Time Bedlam Hero Brennan Presley

Brennan Presley might be Bruce Lee reincarnated. He is water. 

Just when you think someone is going to lay the lumber on the undersized speedster, Presley shifts, contorts and keeps going. Try tackling water and you’ll understand the difficulties of getting a solid lick on Presley.

Now a two-time Bedlam hero after his 100-yard kick return against OU in 2021, Presley had eight catches for 97 yards Saturday. Although he didn’t get in the end zone Saturday, his biggest moments set up scores for the Pokes.

On OSU’s opening drive, Presley had a 26-yard catch and run in which he juked Billy Bowman to the turf before Bowman could even touch Presley. OSU scored a touchdown on the drive.

Presley then had a 12-yard catch on a 4th-and-3 in the first quarter, setting up the Pokes’ second score.

Then on that 97-yard drive to take the lead, Presley had back-to-back catches of 17 and 15 yards, respectively. 

Perhaps his most impressive performance of the day came after the game was over. With 10s of thousands of people spilling onto the field, the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Presley cleared a path to get off the field, a path I followed to get to the postgame news conference.

The Cowboys struggled to get the elusive Presley the ball earlier in the year, but Saturday showed why it is paramount Presley keeps getting touches.

6. Third-Down Defense

A reason for concern for OSU exiting this game was the Cowboys’ third-down defense. 

OU was 5-for-12 on third downs Saturday, but the ones the Cowboys gave up were backbreaking because OSU’s D had the Sooners right where it wanted them, but just couldn’t get off the field.

Here are four of OU’s conversions:

3rd-and-7 (15-yard gain)
3rd-and-13 (49-yard gain)
3rd-and-12 (17-yard gain)
3rd-and-12 (26-yard gain)

The first two of those ended up not costing the Cowboys, as they didn’t end in Sooner points. On both of the 3rd-and-12s, though, OU got out of the sticky spot and scored a touchdown. Those are 14 of OSU’s 24 points that could have come off the board had the Pokes’ defense just gotten off the field.

7. Getting One Yard Is So Hard

There might be no scarier situation to OSU fans than 4th-and-1. 

Spawning from the heartbreak in Arlington in 2021, where the Cowboys were a whisker away from a Big 12 title, OSU failed a pair of fourth-down attempts Saturday. Both of those instances came on 4th-and-1. 

The first came in the third quarter with OSU protecting a 17-14 lead. Going for perhaps a knockout blow, Gundy kept his offense on the field on the OU 16-yard line. The Pokes gave Gordon the rock, but they couldn’t keep the Sooners off him long enough to get the yard needed.

Later in the quarter, the Cowboys again found themselves in the situation, this time at the OU 36. Gordon was, again, stopped.

The Cowboys got down to the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter down 21-17, and with the Arlington stench still lingering, OSU fans had a right to be a bit nervous in the situation. But Gordon barreled through and gave OSU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. 

8. Bowman’s First Bedlam

The big moment of Bedlam didn’t change Alan Bowman. He played just as he has the past four weeks: steady.

He completed 67% of his 42 pass attempts. He had 334 yards — just under an OSU-high for him. He didn’t throw for a touchdown, but he did run for one, a 13-yard scamper in the second quarter.

But perhaps most importantly, Bowman threw the ball away instead of forcing some things, and he, again, didn’t take a sack (shoutout to the OSU O-line). For a run-first team like OSU has become, that’ll do.

9. Bowman’s Most Important Play

Despite throwing for 334 yards and running for a touchdown, Bowman’s most important play didn’t involve the ball being in his hands.

Bowman’s most important play came when he forced Billy Bowman (no known relation) out of bounds after the OU Bowman intercepted an Ollie Gordon pass (thus the -200 passer rating).

OU had a 21-17 lead at the time, and OSU Bowman was the only thing between OU Bowman and the Sooners leading 28-17. OSU Bowman used the sideline to his advantage and forced OU Bowman out.

It was a woeful play that had shades of Jalen McCleskey’s interception against TCU in 2017 as Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys were driving downfield. 

But all’s well that ends well, as the Sooners ended up not scoring on their ensuing drive.

10. But Who Won the Last One?

OSU fans have a rebuttal to the age-old OU flex of the all-time Bedlam record: “Oh yeah, but who won the last one?”

I’m sad the rivalry is going away. I shared those thoughts earlier this week. This game and this entire week are special, and it’s hard to believe we won’t have this anymore.

The series ends (for now) 90-21-7 in OU’s favor. But until the Cowboys and Sooners meet again in a bowl game or whenever, the OU faithful will have to live with the fact that the last time OSU and OU shared a scoreboard, the Pokes (little brother, Choke State, Stoolwater, the not-real-rival) finished with more points than the Sooners.

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