By: Dixon C. Land
When the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers and the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison take the field on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m., they’ll be playing for much greater implications than a conference win. The score will matter, but the occasion that will be marked will have a much more lasting effect than the numbers on the scoreboard after the game. It will mark the beginning of a revived era—one that saw two OBU’s battling for the title of #1.Two schools, separated by 293 miles, are almost identical in structure. With a mere 400-student difference in enrollment, the two small schools in small towns have similar identities. Both schools are mostly residential – meaning that between the two schools, almost all of the 3,000 students live within walking distance of their classes. Oklahoma Baptist sits on 200 acres, while Ouachita boasts 85. Oklahoma’s version of Super Summer is held in the 100-year old chapel on Oklahoma Baptist’s campus.
Think T.W.I.R.P. is an exclusive Ouachita thing? You’d be wrong. They do it as well.
And yes Ouachita friends, they have beanies too. Marked in gold and green, they wear theirs while they learn their spirit chant “Ka-rip” and participate in the “The Walk” mirroring the walk taken on graduation day. Sound familiar to Boomalacka and Tigers and Torches?
When Ouachita and Oklahoma Baptist last played in 1940, an exact 75 years ago, Ouachita dominated on-the-field action. With a final score of 21-0, the rivalry ceased on a rather uneventful note, with a dominating performance.
If our sister school from the west did get one thing right, they did it in their mascot—The Bison. A beautiful animal with a large build, the Bison can run at top speeds of 35 mph, rivaling a horse in speed. Furthermore, they’ve been known to jump high enough to scale fences and can turn on a dime; weighing as much as a literal ton, the Bison is highly agile and known to be protective of their kind. If Oklahoma Baptist wanted to pick an intimidating animal, they picked the right type.
In 1962, a student organization known as “The Sacred Order of the Bison,” brought a live bison to campus and named it “Belshazzar.” Actually, four Belshazzar’s lived on campus over the course of ten years; however, in 1974, Belshazzar IV was released and since, the mascot name has been shortened to “Shaz.”
Oh yeah, Harding, something I’ve been meaning to tell you: “Bison” in the plural form is in fact, “Bison.” Oklahoma Baptist got it right. You on the other hand? Not so much.
Ouachita and Oklahoma Baptist have met six times in the history of the series, with each team winning twice with one tie. That 1940 matchup was the only time the game didn’t come down to one scoring play.
Ouachita will enter the contest on Saturday, the favorite. With a 5-3 record, they are expected to dominate a much smaller 2-6 opponent in the Bison. But, with the rough and rowdy Bison drooling for a win against a conference opponent and a rivalry in the making with the eastern boys from Ouachita, don’t be surprised if this matchup goes down to the wire.
For those of you going to the game, remember that you are making history by being there. Many people have been born and died in the duration of time that this rivalry took a hiatus. Seventy-five years of waiting has yielded a Saturday afternoon at Cliff Harris Stadium where the two OBU’s finally square off — a matchup 75 years in the making.
Nevertheless, there is one thing I forgot to mention: the rivalry has taken many different names, but none has really taken a concrete form. “Battle of the OBU’s” and “Battle of the Baptists” have been thrown around for years, but haven’t really taken off. Still others like “OBU East versus OBU West.” I think we’re missing the point.
If you find me in the next few days, I’ll be calling it by its rightful name: OBU vs. Oklahoma Baptist University. Enjoy being a part of history this weekend.