We continue our week-long series reliving Bedlam 2014 with a pair of asides that serve as an intermission to my recollection of the game and set us up for the final chapter. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.
Foes Become Folklore
Bedlam, like most rivalry games, spawns memorable characters that live (mostly to the chagrin of the opposing fan) in the opposing team’s mythos for years to come.
By this point, Blake Bell was already an established Bedlam villain, having pushed the Sooners to late victories the previous two years. Without him, there’s a real case to be made that OSU wins four-straight Bedlam games. Try and wrap your mind around that. Mike Gundy’s mullet would be all the way to the middle of his back by now. I digress.
In 2014, Bell had made the move to tight end and he turned in a career receiving game of 59 yards on two catches on this day. His first was a 47-yarder that set up OU’s second score, by Aaron Ripkowski.
But Ripkowski was the Sooner who donned the black hat this year. I spent most of this game fairly certain that it would be remembered as the day Aaron Ripkowski-ed the beating heart from my orange-clad chest.
The fullback was a former walk-on who became an integral part of the Sooners’ historic ground game (the stuff Mike Gundy’s dreams are made of). But in his final Bedlam, Bob Stoops gave him the ball and he appeared unstoppable, 1 yard at a time. I can still see him trudging across the goal line with three Cowboys draped over him.
Ripkowski had 13 total rushing yards during his two-year career at Oklahoma. All 13 came that season, but he only needed 2 of them to find OSU’s end zone twice. (He only had three rushing scores during his entire college career!). He also scored the Sooners’ only receiving touchdown on the day.
OSU Should Not Have Won This Game
In review, this was a game that Oklahoma State probably should not have won (the opposite of how things have often gone under Gundy in Bedlam). But that’s part of the appeal when bitter rivals are set against each other. The Cowboys were three-TD underdogs — and playing OU — and ignoring all the things that would take place during those waning moments on that drizzling night (which we will get to later), the Sooners were without a number of would-be impact players down the stretch.
Semaje Perine left in the third quarter with injury. Sterling Shepard, OU’s top wideout, tried to give it a go returning form a groin injury. He touched the ball once, gaining just 4 yards before he left the game.
OU had dealt with quarterback issues of its own. Trevor Knight was still sidelined after a scary injury against Baylor weeks before, and Bob Stoops trusted Cody Thomas just about as far as he could throw him, which, incidentally, was about as far as he let his frosh QB throw the ball. And lest we forget, Joe Mixon was serving his season-long suspension following his domestic violence arrest. What if OU had Mixon to spell Perine? Or maybe Perine doesn’t get hurt at all while sharing the load with Mixon. We’ll never know.
Enough about the Sooners. The Cowboys laid out their own stepping stones to victory, and proceeded to stumble over most of them. For much of the game, OSU appeared intent on shooting itself in the foot with penalties. The Cowboys were flagged nine times for 55 yards, several of which came at the worst possible time.
For example: After Bell’s 47-yard reception, the Sooners found themselves in the red zone at the end of the first quarter tied 7-7. OSU’s defense bowed up and was not going to let Oklahoma’s stout rushing attack find pay dirt. But two pass interference penalties extended the drive, the latest by Seth Jacobs occurred on third-and-goal. All in all, OU got 10 cracks at the end zone from inside the Cowboy 20. Eventually, they got in.
I could come up with 100 reasons OSU shouldn’t have won this game and name you any one of a handful of things that, had it gone differently, the final score would have as well. And sure, you could say the same about just any football game, but those are magnified in big games like this, which is what makes them all the more memorable.
Stay tuned for the final chapter of our look back at Bedlam 2014 tomorrow.