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Oklahoma Football Press Conference: Lincoln Riley discusses Bedlam, officiating and more!

Bedlam is upon us.

The Oklahoma Sooners survived a nighttime scare in front of a hostile crowd in Lubbock, and now the team is back in the friendly confines of Norman for the annual showdown with the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Mike Gundy’s squad limps into this year’s meeting after losing a heartbreaker in Waco, but bowl eligibility is still within reach. On Monday, Lincoln Riley addressed questions on the Texas Tech game and the week ahead as far as Bedlam is concerned.

The Big 12 officials have been under fire more so than usual (which is saying something) in recent weeks, and Saturday night’s game at Texas Tech has been one of the most scrutinized games in that regard thus far into the 2018 season. Riley was asked about the inconsistencies across the conference with how personal foul penalties are enforced.

“I think the thing that we’ve all got to do is continue to communicate with the league office, but when you have penalties like ‘unsportsmanlike’ that are subjective, when you put yourself in those situations, it’s not always going to get called, but sometimes it is. First as us coaching them, and then as our players act or respond to things on the field, they’ve got to know where the lines are. We certainly ask for consistency.”

Sophomore safety Robert Barnes has come on for Ruffin McNeill’s defense in recent weeks, and turned in arguably his best performance against the Red Raiders. Riley spoke about what the difference has been for Barnes between the beginning of the season and now.

“He missed a lot of spring. He’s missed a lot of time here, health-wise, so for him, I think we all felt like it was a matter of time. He needed to consistently be out there and have a chance to improve, and so I think he’s done that. I think over the last several weeks his confidence is growing. He’s playing faster, understanding what we want, what Coach Cooks is expecting in the back end right now, and his confidence is growing as a playmaker.”

After two impressive outings against TCU and Kansas State, the Sooner defense sometimes looked more like the group of old in Lubbock — although there were some bright spots, as well. Riley briefly assessed what he observed from that side of the ball.

“We were okay, you know. We were okay. Kind of like we were on all three sides of the ball. We weren’t great, we weren’t terrible, we were somewhere in between. We were tough, and we played really, really hard. We had some game-changing plays. […] We weren’t as good as we need to be, and as good as we can be.”

Dating back to 2003, Oklahoma has won 13 of the past 15 meetings against Oklahoma State. Even with the Cowboys’ rise as a program over the last decade, the Sooners have still managed to dominate the Bedlam series unlike virtually any other in-state rivalry. Riley spoke about what goes into that sustained success and why it’s been so difficult for OSU to even up the playing field.

“I can speak on the last three. They’ve been battles, I know that. They’ve been absolute battles. The first couple we’ve had a chance to separate a little bit in those games, but they’ve always been battles. They’ve been very intense. You can tell when you’re playing those guys that you’re going against a really good team. I’ve always felt that in all three. The team is really coached up. There’s really good players. You feel the intensity of the rivalry. It’s been a game that’s been very relevant on the national stage here for the last several years, so you felt all that. I continue to feel that, and I think that’s what makes it the game it is. Doesn’t matter what’s happened before this week, I know that. It’ll be a battle like it always is.”

Full press conference links

Kyler Murray and Trey Sermon both had monster nights on the ground, and the future Oakland A gave credit to his offensive line for paving their way.

Murray was also asked about Oklahoma State and any connections he may have to the coaches or players currently on the team. Not only is he not close with anybody representing the Cowboys, he also added this:

Team captain Kenneth Murray understands the tradition that comes with Bedlam, but he also knows it’s still a game Oklahoma needs to handle like all other games. If the Sooners take care of their business, good things should follow.

For those who disagreed with how the officials handled the double-penalties on CeeDee Lamb, you might (but probably not) find solace in the fact that the Big 12 league office let Lincoln Riley know that the first of those two calls should not have been enforced. This news comes too late to impact the outcome, but at least there is some ownership being taken by the conference.

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