Welcome to the Red River Rivalry, the game where two historic powers collide at the same neutral site each year, a clash fans and alumni have an extra dose of intensity for, and the Saturday morning where the State Fair of Texas at Fair Park turns into a trash-talking war zone. It’s a tradition unlike any other in college football, and it’s time for the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns to take center stage once again.
The annual showdown has certainly provided countless memories since the series started in 1900, and it’s always split right down the middle with burnt orange and crimson at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas since the college football rivalry moved there for good in 1929.
On Saturday, December 1, 2018, the rivalry had a different feel, location and stakes. For the first time ever, the Longhorns and Sooners played at a stadium other than the Cotton Bowl, when the two ranked squads met at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington for the Big 12 Championship. OU won the conference championship, 39-27.
Texas leads the all-time series with a 62-48-5 record, including the Longhorns winning 48-45 in the the 113th edition of the AT&T Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl Stadium on October 6, where both teams were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2012.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak, the annual rivalry game will have a much different feel than ever before in 2020, but it’s still going to be heated.
There is never any shortage of storylines before each Texas-Oklahoma battle on the gridiron, but here are six unique facts and numbers you need to know about the Red River Rivalry, which has also been called the Red River Classic and Red River Shootout over the years:
Significance: The number of games both Oklahoma and Texas were ranked during the Red River Rivalry series, including 2019.
From the 34-14 victory No. 3 Texas put on No. 15 Oklahoma in 1947 to the 63-21 drubbing the No. 13 Sooners gave the No. 15 Longhorns back in 2012, there is plenty of history in this game that shakes up the college football landscape year after year. Nothing was more significant than when the two teams were No. 1 and No. 2 in the country in 1963, a game in which the second-ranked Longhorns beat the top-ranked Sooners 28-7. On three occasions (1976, 1984, and 1995) when the two ranked programs played each other, the game finished in a tie. It’s crazy to think how good the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma have been over the years, and it definitely makes this game a lot better when they both are in the Top 25.
Significance: The number of Heisman Trophy Winners to play in the Red River Rivalry.
With a few decades’ worth of talented rosters between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns over the years, this number might seem a bit low, but it’s still unbelievable. Billy Vessels (1952), Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1978), Jason White (2003), Sam Bradford (2008), Baker Mayfield (2017), and Kyler Murray (2018) all won the Heisman Trophy for Oklahoma, while Earl Campbell (1977) and Ricky Williams (1998) took home college football’s most prestigious honor for Texas. It would be hard to find a better list of players who have suited up in such an iconic series and that doesn’t even include a host of college All-Americans and NFL players like quarterback Colt McCoy (Texas) and running back Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma).
Significance: The number of times either Oklahoma or Texas has scored zero points in a Red River Rivalry game.
There have been several exciting games over the years, but not all of them have been epic displays of offense. Texas first shut out Oklahoma 11-0 in Norman in 1901 and the Sooners returned the favor in 1905 by beating the Longhorns 2-0 in Oklahoma City. Then, of course, after several more scoreless outings without even a field goal in the early 1900s, there was the 12-0 shutout in 2004 when No. 2 Oklahoma made sure Vince Young and No. 5 Texas did absolutely nothing. It’s hard to top a great defensive performance like that in the NCAA.
Significance: The number of times both Oklahoma and Texas combined to score at least 50 points in a Red River Rivalry game.
What once was a very low-scoring series for decades has suddenly turned into this slugfest of touchdowns. After having just 12 games where both teams combined for at least 50 points from 1900 to 1933, there have been 17 more since Oklahoma and Texas both joined the Big 12 Conference in 1996, including five times since 2011. This new era of college football has almost made it the norm after a long run when it was definitely the exception.
This game is usually very exciting to more than just Texas fans and Oklahoma fans.
Significance: The number of head coaches during the Red River Rivalry.
From Darrell Royal to Mack Brown at Texas to Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, there have been several legendary coaches to pace the Cotton Bowl sidelines for the Red River Rivalry. All five coaches listed above won at least one national championship, too. If Tom Herman can find success in Austin, Texas and if Lincoln Riley keeps things going in Norman, Oklahoma, there’s a good chance this number stays the same for the famous Texas-OU series for many years.
Significance: The number of trophies associated with the Red River Rivalry.
How important is the Red River Rivalry? It’s so big that it needs three trophies for the game itself. The Golden Hat is by far the most iconic of the trio, while the Red River Rivalry Trophy exchanged between the student bodies and the Governors’ Trophy remain great traditions as well. But did you know there is also a NROTC Trophy? It is an annual tradition where each schools’ Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps runs the game balls from their campus to Dallas before ending the competition with a football scrimmage. The winner, of course, gets a trophy and Oklahoma has held it since 2010.
There are certainly some other heated rivalries in college football, such as Ohio State and Michigan, but nothing truly compares to the Red River Rivalry matchup at the Texas State fair in the Dallas-Fort Worth area each and every year.
This post was originally published on October 4, 2018 before updating.