The definition of a rivalry is a competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.
But how do we determine a rival?
Is it just about who we play most often or who we have the longest history with? Is it about proximity or being from the same state? Or is it just the team that fans and players get the most excited to play, hate the most, and feel the most bitter toward?
Despite what the University of Oklahoma thinks, when it comes to football, Bedlam is the big game for Oklahoma State players and fans. That’s the rivalry. That’s the game we all get up for, the game we show up and cheer loudest for. Beating OU can make the Cowboys’ season, even if the season itself isn’t that great (see: 2001, 2014).
You can claim OU as Oklahoma State’s biggest rival in most sports: Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, etc. But I would propose that there are a couple of outliers.
Bedlam is a rivalry in Wrestling, but are the Sooners the biggest rival? Wouldn’t Iowa be a bigger rival? Going that route, wouldn’t we be treating OU in wrestling the same way they treat us in football?
With Round 1 of Bedlam basketball coming up tonight in Norman, it got me wondering: are the Sooners our biggest rival in basketball?
Let’s look at the facts for OU: With 147 meetings, Oklahoma State has played Oklahoma more than any other team. The Sooners lead the series 83-64 and in recent years, let’s be honest, the series hasn’t been that competitive. It’s OSU’s in-state rivalry game and one fans always get up for Bedlam (and get down when we lose). In 2013, Cowboy fans rushed Eddie Sutton court after an overtime victory where OSU was the favorite.
All that being said, are they the biggest rival? What about Kansas?
From the 2012-13 season until last year, no Big 12 team has given the Jayhawks more trouble than OSU. We’ve played Kansas the second most times after OU, though we have a worse winning percentage. As soon as the schedule is released each year, the players circle the games against KU on the calendar.
Granted, most teams in the Big 12 feel the same way about Kansas. They’re the team to beat. Plenty of teams view Kansas as a rival; you know Kansas State does, and Iowa State. Missouri did at one time, and might still. For all I know, OU views Kansas as a rival.
Maybe Kansas feels like a bigger rival to me because we actually beat them. We’re 4-6 against Kansas since the start of the 2012-13 season. We’re 1-8 against OU. I realize records don’t make a rival (If they did, then OU would be right about football) but optimism about beating a team certainly doesn’t hurt.
Or am I leaving another team out? Is another Big 12 team a bigger rival? Is it someone outside the league like Tulsa or Arkansas?
Personally, I lean Kansas. I could be wrong, but it’s just how I feel. I get more excited for games against the Jayhawks than any other team. I enjoy beating OU as much as other OSU fans, but there’s something great about beating Kansas at basketball.
So I leave it to you; who is Oklahoma State’s biggest rival in basketball? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments section.