It Does, Indeed, Seem Like Old Times

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Oklahoma, Texas scrap for the 106th time


By Bo Carter



Seems like old times…


That song title from the 1930s is particularly apropos for the 106th all-time meeting of Oklahoma and Texas (their 16th as members of the Big 12 Conference) and the 83rd consecutive bout on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas.


The reasons for nostalgia?


With the ever-changing landscape in recent weeks regarding conferences, it could be the final meeting of the teams in the Big 12, or it could be the continuation of a storied rivalry if the conference remains together.


The AT&T Red River Rivalry also could decide the eventual national champion. In 11 different seasons from 1950-2005, the eventual BCS or wire service national titlist emerged from this encounter.

And with Oklahoma No. 3 nationally and Texas No. 11 in this week’s national polls, fans can hearken to the Fabulous ‘40s-Enlightening ‘80s when virtually every season produced a battle of Top 20 or even Top 10 powerhouses between the Longhorns and Sooners.


Previous Red River Rivalries have seen future Texas head coach Darrell Royal starring as a Sooner All-America back, officials being accosted and even assaulted after close games, inebriated (and even some sober) fans throwing objects as large as couches off balconies out of hotel windows onto Commerce Street in downtown Dallas after a night of taunting the opposition, and even a “friendly” media luncheon from locales of Casa Dominguez (R.I.P.), Eddie Deen’s, Two Rows, and now Edison’s restaurants where margaritas and flour tortillas flowed like rivers and manna in the desert.


And the Nos. 3 and 11 ratings are not atypical of the long and glorious history between these powerhouse programs.


OU has been in the national polls on game week in 12 of the last 13 meetings after a rare, four-year Top 25 drought from 1996-99 for the Sooners.


UT enters the fracas with 13 consecutive years of national rankings (since 1999) under ultra-successful head coach Mack Brown after a 1986-93 lapse (longest dry spell for the ratings in Red River Rivalry annals for the Longhorns) from the wire service or BCS surveys.


Tantalizing tidbits

A bit of additional trivia for the Sooner and Longhorn diehards:


-In 61 of the last 66 contests (including 2011), at least one of the teams has been ranked among the Top 25 nationally at game time.


-Before the Longhorns and Sooners moved the rivalry to Dallas permanently in 1929 (just before the great Stock Market Crash of ’29) to coincide with the second Saturday of the Texas State Fair, Texas met Vanderbilt six times between 1922 and ’28 at Fair Park on the gridiron. Vandy actually has a 4-2-1 edge over UT in contests played in Dallas or Austin, but they ended that series in 1928.


-Texas is 4-2 in the 2005-10 meetings between the Red River rivals. OU captured five consecutive games from 2000-04. The longest dominance in the series has been eight games twice (1922-32 and 1958-65 by the Longhorns) and six consecutive victories by Oklahoma from 1952-57. Texas leads the all-time series 59-41-5 and 47-37-4 in 88 tussles in Dallas. The teams last faced off outside Fair Park in 1923 in Austin with UT prevailing, 26-14.


-The squads squared off nine times at old Fair Park Stadium in Dallas before meeting at new Fair Park Stadium (which became Cotton Bowl Stadium in 1937 after the Jan. 1, 1937, Cotton Bowl clash between TCU and Marquette) in 1932. Stadium capacity at virtually the same location has increased from roughly 10,000 in 1912 to 92,100 in 2008.


-Current head coaches Bob Stoops (133-31 for a .811 winning percentage – all at Oklahoma since 1999) of OU and Mack Brown (137-34 at Texas with a .802 winning percentage since 1998, 213-108-1 over 28 seasons) are headed toward certain NFF College Hall of Fame coaching induction. Their combined 270 wins in 27 total seasons at their current assignments are the most ever by facing Red River Rivalry mentors over that span. Of note, UT’s Brown was offensive coordinator for Oklahoma in 1984 when the teams tied, 15-15.


-Previous NFF College Hall of Fame coaches who have glared across the field from one another are UT’s D.X. Bible and Darrell Royal along with OU’s Bennie Owen, Biff Jones, Jim Tatum, Bud Wilkinson, and Barry Switzer.


As far as this game goes…

In the present with a 4-0 Oklahoma squad (1-0 in the Big 12 with a key win over Missouri) and 4-0 Texas team (1-0 in the league after thumping Iowa State 37-14 last week in Ames) laying it all on the line, there are different schools of thought among the seasoned coaching staffs.


OU goes with record-setting QB Landry Jones (already 111-of-155 passing for 1,447 yards and 10 TDs) to favorite wideout Ryan Broyles (38 catches for 476 yards and six scores) offensively. DBs Javon Harris and Aaron Colvin and LB Tom Wort pace a defensive unit with tons of savvy, and Oklahoma has dedicated the season to late LB Austin Box with commemorative No. 12 decals and a special No. 12 jersey worn by one of the team members each week.


Texas has relied on “quarterback by committee” with freshman QB David Ash drawing his first college start against ISU in the loop road win and Case McCoy and Garrett Gilbert also sporting ample playing time. UT special teams have had a direct hand in the scoring outcome of two of the four victories, and kicker Justin Tucker is a threat to hit long-range field goals near he end of a tight decision.


Both coaches realize the high stakes of this encounter, and they just happen to be the last two taskmasters from either school (Stoops in 2000 and Brown in 2005) to guide their teams to BCS titles. Stoops, in fact, has had the Sooners in BCS bowls in eight of the last 11 seasons while Brown has taken UT squads to four BCS encounters since 2004 (including the Longhorns’ first appearance in a Rose Bowl game in both Jna. 2005 and ’06).


Just another game?

Oklahoma has a ton of talent,” Brown began, “and I think Landry Jones is a tremendous player. In my estimation, he should be the leader for the Heisman (Trophy). Last year they got out on is very quickly with two touchdowns, and caught us off balance. We need to get that corrected before Saturday.”


Texas is another game on our schedule,” Stoops said. “Missouri – that’s also a big game. Going down to Florida State, playing and winning wasn’t an easy road. We respect every team on our schedule, and we respect Texas most this week. This definitely is a game that sets the tone for the season and one you can build upon for the rest of the season.”


Regardless of philosophy, both these schools have this weekend marked in red or orange on their calendars, and anticipation is building for another probable classic in the 100-plus-game series. The last three meetings have racked up a total of 177 points and more chills and thrills than the scariest ride at the State Fair of Texas.


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