OU, OSU push '06 Bedlam game to Thanksgiving

Updated: February 6, 2006, 9:15 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The 2006 Bedlam football game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State has been moved back to Thanksgiving weekend, officials from both schools said Monday.

The game, originally scheduled for Sept. 30, now will be played Nov. 25, one week before the Big 12 Conference championship game. This year's Bedlam game will be played at Oklahoma State and will be televised.

The change was announced as Oklahoma released its 2006 schedule and the Cowboys re-released their calendar with the bedlam date.

The teams played on Thanksgiving weekend from 1999 to 2002, but on an earlier weekend the past three years. Oklahoma State has expressed a preference for playing on Thanksgiving weekend, while Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has said he prefers keeping that weekend open in case the Sooners qualified for the Big 12 championship game.

The Big 12's television contract played a major role in the switch. The contract requires Oklahoma to play on Thanksgiving weekend at least four times in an eight-year period and for Oklahoma State to play in that slot at least twice.

Stoops said Monday that he wasn't unhappy with the change. Oklahoma State athletic department spokesman Steve Buzzard sounded even more enthusiastic.

"I think the majority of fans enjoy the game being on that weekend," Buzzard said. "From that standpoint, it works out pretty well. Plus, it's a prime TV weekend."

Both teams now will have an open date on Sept. 30.

Oklahoma will play 12 NCAA Division I-A teams, including nonconference home games against Alabama-Birmingham on Sept. 2, Washington on Sept. 9 and Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 23. The Sooners have one nonconference road game, at Oregon on Sept. 16 in a rematch of the recent Holiday Bowl, won by the Sooners 17-14.

Oklahoma will open the Big 12 portion of its schedule on Oct. 7 in Dallas against defending national champion Texas. The Sooners have only three conference home games _ against Iowa State on Oct. 14, Colorado on Oct. 21 and Texas Tech on Nov. 11. Four of the Sooners' final five regular-season games will be away from Norman.

Stoops was pleased with the Sooners' nonconference schedule, especially with the game against Middle Tennessee State. Division I-A teams were allowed to schedule a 12th game starting in 2006 and Stoops said the Sooners wanted to avoid using the extra game to schedule a Division I-AA team if possible. Middle Tennessee State is a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

"We didn't have a lot of people wanting to play us or [who had] availability [in scheduling]," Stoops said.

The combined 2005 record of OU's 12 opponents was 71-62.

"The scheduling process becomes a little more complicated each year, and this one was no exception," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "Finding opponents and matching dates has become something of a science, but the diligence is always worth it in the end."

Oklahoma State will open at home against Division I-AA Missouri State on Sept. 2. The Cowboys will play in Little Rock against Arkansas State on Sept. 9, host Florida Atlantic on Sept. 16 and visit Houston on Sept. 23.

The Cowboys start Big 12 play on Oct. 7 at Kansas State. Oklahoma State's Big 12 home games will be against Texas A&M on Oct. 21, Nebraska on Oct. 28, Baylor on Nov. 11 and Oklahoma.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press