Why is it Called the Bedlam Series? A Closer Look at the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State Rivalry

Why is it called Bedlam when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State play? Where did the term come from if it wasn't on the football field?

No matter where you’re from in America, you’ve heard the word Bedlam. While it’s a term that literally means ‘a scene of uproar and confusion,’ the term Bedlam has lent itself to one of the country’s most prestigious college athletics rivalries as well.

What is Bedlam? And why do they call the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State Rivalry the Bedlam Series?

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Why is it Called the Bedlam Series?

The Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys have battled uninterrupted since 1910. Though that changes with Oklahoma’s move to the SEC in 2024, these two programs have met a whopping 117 times in their illustrious history.

Despite that history, the rivalry got its name from a sport other than football.

Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State extends to the halls of the wrestling rooms of each program as the two perennial wrestling powers do battle annually as well. The term Bedlam was coined from the crowded stands of Oklahoma State’s Gallagher Hall (now Gallagher-Iba Arena) whenever OSU and OU met on the wrestling mat.

According to multiple versions of the accounts of such wrestling events, a reporter ventured out of Gallagher Hall and said, ‘It’s bedlam in there!’

Gallagher Hall is home to more national championships than any other building in America as Oklahoma State’s wrestling teams have won 34 team titles and have earned 143 individual NCAA titles. The Cowboys wrestling program also has brought home 485 All-American honors.

The crowds that filled Gallagher Hall were considered legendary and caused Bedlam whenever Oklahoma visited. Hence, the name Bedlam whenever these two teams met.

The term Bedlam originated from the wrestling mat and was made famous on the gridiron.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State battle it out in more than one sport, but the Bedlam Series is certainly most famous for their efforts on the football field. Despite OSU’s success on the wrestling mat, the Sooners have dominated the football field, including the first victory, the largest victory, and a distinct 72-game advantage in the win-loss column.

MORE: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Bedlam Series Annual Results

The Sooners are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in 2024, but these two programs did battle for 40 seasons without the friendly confines of the same conference, leaving hope that they can find a way to continue their rivalry at some point in the future.

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