Cliffnote Chronicles: The First Game of the Bedlam Series was an All-Timer

This upcoming Saturday features the 111th Bedlam Series game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I found myself on the Wikipedia page for the Bedlam Series...
Bedlam Series

This upcoming Saturday features the 111th Bedlam Series game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I found myself on the Wikipedia page for the Bedlam Series the other day. Do yourself a favor and read the story of the first game from 1904:

It was a cold, and very windy day with the temperatures well below the freezing mark. At one moment in the game when the Oklahoma A&M Aggies were punting, the wind carried the ball backwards behind the kicker. If the Oklahoma A&M squad recovered the ball it would be a touchback and if the University of Oklahoma squad recovered it, it would be a touchdown. The ball kept going backwards and rolled down a hill into the half-frozen creek. Since a touchdown was at stake, members of both teams dove into the icy waters to recover the ball. A member of the OU team came out with the ball and downed it for a touchdown, eventually winning the game 75–0.

That’s some M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end there. 75-0??? Are you fucking kidding me with that? Glossing over the fact that football apparently didn’t have out-of-bounds 100 years ago, when I saw the game ended 75-0 I audibly gasped. Take a look at this excerpt from a 1965 Sooner Magazine article about the play:

When the ball landed it didn’t stop. Down an incline it went and right into the waters of Cottonwood Creek. The temperature was below zero that afternoon, and the water looked mighty cold. Still, a touchdown was at stake, and members of both teams did just what you would expect. First man to reach the water’s edge was an Aggie. He grabbed a stick and tried to reach the ball with it. A University player, charging with momentum, went crashing into the Aggie’s backside and knocked the man into the water. Then he dived into the water after him, and both were desperately treading water toward the floating ball when it occurred to the Sooner to duck the Aggie. […] Three other players ran into the water, and, finally, Ed Cook captured the ball, struck out for the bank and shiveringly touched it down there for a touchdown. The next 25 minutes were no laughing matter. Wearing a wet uniform on a wintry day can be painful. 

A couple takeaways:

  1. I can’t gloss over it anymore, what sport is this? This is decidedly not football.
  2. Love the Aggie that brought a knife to a gun fight. Standing at the water’s edge trying to reach the ball with a fucking stick before a Sooner blasts him into Cottonwood Creek.
  3. No kidding “Wearing a wet uniform on a wintry day can be painful”. If I get moderately damp on a nice day my entire life is ruined. Jumping into a freezing lake in below zero temperatures and then playing 1900s football (which I’m pretty sure is just running up the middle for an entire game) sounds like the most miserable thing in the world.
  4. Hey, “Three other players [who] ran into the water,” do less.
  5. Most importantly, of course, this ended in a 75 point game. Reading this made it seem like we’re talking about J.T. Barrett fighting for a first down, not the ancient Greeks playing for some pride. How can they say things like “Still, a touchdown was at stake, and members of both teams did just what you’d expect”? Must say I expect far less from football players today. Get concussions if you’d like, but for the love of god don’t jump into a frozen creek in November.

Can’t wait to watch the Bedlam Series this Saturday from the warmth of my couch and not shoulder deep in a frozen Cottonwood Creek.

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