As Jack pointed out earlier today, Sooners fans have traditionally viewed Bedlam as a necessary annoyance and mere stepping stone on the path to a conference title. Sure, it’s always fun to beat an in-state foe, but the OSU rivalry never rose to the levels of the Red River.
Of course, most people will point out that State’s recent rise to prominence has turned Bedlam into the back-and-forth slugfest it was always meant to be. And that’s true—kind of. I mean, the games have definitely been exciting in recent years. But the fact is, OU is still 13-4 (.765) against OSU in the Bob Stoops era, and 5-2 (.714) since 2009. Both figures nicely reflect Oklahoma’s all-time 85-18-7 Bedlam record, an .805 winning percentage. It’s one of the most lopsided rivalries in sports.
What are the others? Few rivalries are both so intense and so one-sided, but there are a handful that fit the bill. Whether it be a dominant head-to-head tally or a vastly superior track record of success, here are the teams that can always claim the upper hand in their so-called rivalries:
Baseball’s fiercest rivalry has lost some of its edge since the Sox got good. After all, that was kind of the point, right? The Yankees were great all the time, won tons of titles and Boston fans resented them for it while their team fell apart in the occasional postseason. It was the ultimate case of ring envy, and was nicely analogous to the Bedlam rivalry right up through Aaron Boone’s gut-punch of a series-winner in the 2003 ALCS.
And then the Sox reversed the curse, winning three championships to New York’s one in the last 12 years. Suddenly this feels like a very mutual rivalry, and next season’s race for the AL East will no doubt add another intriguing chapter. But there’s just no arguing with numbers: 27 is more than eight, and 40—the number of New York pennants—is a lot more than 13. Similarly, seven national titles will trump one* any day, as will nine Big 12 titles over just one for OSU.
New York’s all-time lead over Boston is 1,183-996-14, meaning the Yankees win just 54% of their matchups. It’s a far cry from OU’s intrastate domination, but still impressive in a sport like baseball where, over the course of a century, records are usually going to wind up pretty 50/50. Not here, and the World Series rings haven’t either.
Is this even a rivalry? you might ask yourself. That depends on your definition. But the Longhorns’ all-time lead in this series is 72-21-1, which—shockingly—is a .771 winning percentage, actually worse than OU’s all-time .805 against OSU. That’s right, folks—historically, Oklahoma beats Little Brother more consistently than Texas beats Rice. So is this a rivalry? If Bedlam can be, I don’t see why not.
Still, Rice’s 21 wins came overwhelmingly in the early years of the competition. Since 1961, Rice has defeated Texas just twice, the last time in 1994. The main reason this game constitutes a rivalry is because of the famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech President Kennedy made to the Rice student body in 1962.
But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
Kennedy was comparing an Owls victory to the greatest achievements of humankind. Turns out, the United States has been to the moon more times than Rice has beaten Texas since Kennedy uttered those words. Maybe he was right.
One of the biggest grudge-matches in pro football, the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry isn’t actually all that close. No, Dallas doesn’t own Bedlam-level domination, but its all-time record against D.C. is actually better than against any of its other NFC East challengers, or against the Steelers or ‘Niners. Dallas is 68-44-2 all-time against the ‘Skins for a .605 percentage. And its five Super Bowl victories, among the league’s best total, will beat three any day.
Sure, the ‘Skins have had their moments against Dallas. They own victories in the only two playoff matchups between the teams, kind of like OSU’s two stunning upsets against the great OU squads of the early aughts. But for a rivalry often considered the best in pro football, Dallas-Washington isn’t the back-and-forth matchup one might expect. Dallas’s six wins in the last eight contests show the rivalry remains unchanged today.
North Carolina-NC State
As one of the premier programs in college basketball, the Tar Heels wipe the floor with their Wolfpack friends when it comes to hoops. Maybe this is no surprise, but NC State is no slouch—this is the squad of Norm Sloan and Jim Valvano; of two national titles; of the ultimate Cinderella; of Thurl Bailey and Vinny Del Negro. How big could the gap possibly be?
Turns out, it’s 153-77, or .665 for the Heels. And somehow the Tar Heels dominate the gridiron as well, with a 66-34-6 (.651) record.
So you see, there are lots of lopsided rivalries out there, but Bedlam may be unique in them all. At least right now, no squad so historically dominant—like Oklahoma—has to fend off its downtrodden opponent quite so frequently.