When Brennan Clay ran in for the winning score, Oklahoma players sprinted and mobbed him in the south endzone. Fans were going insane. Fireworks shot off above the stadium, but the roar of the crowd drowned out the sound of the explosions.
The celebration continued on as the Sooners marched around the field waving toward each section of the Crimson crowd. The stadium blasted popular songs such as “Jump Around” and “Seven Nation Army” as the team and crowd sang together.
Even defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, with anger being his only visible emotion during games, ran around the field for a good minute or two pumping his fists and even yelling exuberantly as an Oklahoma State assistant passed by.
The Sooners and their fans acted as if it had clinched a national title berth, upset a top ranked team or ended a decade long losing streak. It had achieved none of the above, only a victory and bragging rights.
It’s no consolation to losing for this OSU team, but what this celebration indicates is Oklahoma finally views its longtime little brother as a legitimate state rival.
“It was a big celebration,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “I think now there is a respect that is present that maybe hasn’t been there before.”
For years OSU couldn’t even sniff its in-state neighbor, and history indicates it with an 87-17-7 Bedlam series record favoring OU. Some of the best OSU teams featuring the likes of Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas never beat the Sooners.
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon led the better squad to a 44-10 victory against the Sooners last season, ending an eight game losing streak in the series.
But this year’s OSU team, which was the more inexperienced team by far on Saturday, proved last season wasn’t a fluke. OSU deserved to win the game only to have it slip away in the final minutes. It proved last season wasn’t a fluke achieved by just star players.
If Clint Chelf in his first road start could move the offense all over the Sooners, what happens when Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh or whoever is the starting quarterback in three years is an experienced veteran?
Texas will always be a huge game for Oklahoma, but Gundy has set up OSU for national relevance. If the two teams keep meeting as highly ranked teams late in the season, stakes will be high and emotions will be on edge. Expect to see more finishes like Saturday’s thriller.
OU historians will point at the all-time record and claim superior dominance forever, but these schools on the field are now equal peers moving forward into this decade.
And as long as none of the fans get out of hand and poison the opposing school’s trees (ala Alabama-Auburn), this emerging intensity in the Bedlam rivalry is a great development for college football and the state of Oklahoma, and in doing such OSU has finally received the respect it has sought for a century from its neighbors in Norman.