Whatever You Call the Red River Rivalry, Oklahoma Has Owned It Lately

The series, "Welcome to the SEC, Oklahoma" examines some of the things that make the Sooners unique in college athletics.
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It's not very often that league expansion includes can completely envelope one of the biggest and best rivalries in college football, but that's what the Southeastern Conference is adding with Oklahoma and Texas.

Granted, the Sooners will also get to rekindle their rivalry with Missouri, which made the move to the SEC 10 years ago along with Texas A&M, but it's just not the same. 

You don't hear words like bitter or blood feud to describe those games. At least not very often.  

This game is special, and should be on every college football fan's bucket list: 

The Red River Showdown

It's a rivalry game that's so big that they give three trophies to the winning team: the Golden Hat, the Red River Rivalry trophy, and the Governors' trophy. The Golden Hat is presented on the field after the game. The Rivalry trophy is between the student bodies, through their presidents. The Governor's Trophy is just like it sounds, between the governors of the states. 

The game, which used to be called the Red River Shootout and Red River Classic, is still played at the same site every year, Cotton Bowl Stadium during the Texas State Fair on the second weekend of October. The seating is evenly split between the teams at the 50-yard line, one side in burnt orange and the other in crimson.

"It's a great week," former Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "It doesn't get any better.

"Our players and fans really enjoy this week. We do as coaches. You love the challenge of it, the competition of it, and the excitement of going into their state fair and going to the Cotton Bowl and playing and competing with Texas. It's the best."

Although the series dates back to 1900, back when Oklahoma was still a territory and the local Texas paper referred to it as a "practice game," the rivalry really began to ramp up in the 1960s when both programs were good. 

For example, Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 and Texas No. 2 for the 1963 meeting. 

The Sooners also got caught spying on the Longhorns at practice during the 1970s. 

When both schools played in the same conference, the rivalry rose to new heights because it often had a direct impact on the Big 12 title. 

"Our games were important," former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer said before one recent showdown. "This game has more weight. [Before] you could lose or tie and still have a chance to win the national championship. It was an intersectional game. Now it's more than intersectional."

Consequently, Texas has yet to make an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma, which has defeated its rival in nine of the last 12 meetings, has made it four times but has yet to advance past the semifinals. 

With both Oklahoma and Texas coming over to the SEC together, the Red River Rivalry could become one of the conference's biggest annual games, probably second only to the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. 

Oklahoma vs. Texas

Texas leads series 62–49–5

Year, Location, Winner, Score

1900 Austin Texas 28-2

1901 Austin Texas 12-6

1901 Norman Texas 11-0

1902 Austin Texas 22-6

1903 Austin Tied 6-6

1903 Norman Texas 11-5

1904 Austin Texas 40-10

1905 Oklahoma City Oklahoma 2-0

1906 Oklahoma City Texas 10-9

1907 Austin Texas 29-10

1908 Norman Oklahoma 50-0

1909 Austin Texas 30-0

1910 Austin Oklahoma 3-0

1911 Austin Oklahoma 6-3

1912 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 21-6

1913 Houston Texas 14-6

1914 Cotton Bowl Texas 32-7

1915 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 14-13

1916 Cotton Bowl Texas 21-7

1917 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 14-0

1919 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 12-7

1922 Norman Texas 32-7

1923 Austin Texas 26-14

1929 Cotton Bowl Texas 21-0

1930 Cotton Bowl Texas 17-7

1931 Cotton Bowl Texas 3-0

1932 Cotton Bowl Texas 17-10

1933 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 9-0

1934 Cotton Bowl Texas 19-0

1935 Cotton Bowl Texas 12-7

1936 Cotton Bowl Texas 6-0

1937 Cotton Bowl Tied 7-7

1938 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 13-0

1939 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 24-12

1940 Cotton Bowl Texas 19-16

1941 Cotton Bowl Texas 40-7

1942 Cotton Bowl Texas 7-0

1943 Cotton Bowl Texas 13-7

1944 Cotton Bowl Texas 20-0

1945 Cotton Bowl Texas 12-7

1946 Cotton Bowl Texas 20-13

1947 Cotton Bowl Texas 34-14

1948 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 20-14

1949 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 20-14

1950 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 14-13

1951 Cotton Bowl Texas 9-7

1952 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 49-20

1953 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 19-14

1954 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 14-7

1955 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 20-0

1956 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 45-0

1957 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 21-7

1958 Cotton Bowl Texas 15-14

1959 Cotton Bowl Texas 19-12

1960 Cotton Bowl Texas 24-0

1961 Cotton Bowl Texas 28-7

1962 Cotton Bowl Texas 9-6

1963 Cotton Bowl Texas 28-7

1964 Cotton Bowl Texas 28-7

1965 Cotton Bowl Texas 19-0

1966 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 18-9

1967 Cotton Bowl Texas 9-7

1968 Cotton Bowl Texas 26-20

1969 Cotton Bowl Texas 27-17

1970 Cotton Bowl Texas 41-9

1971 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 48-27

1972 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 27-0

1973 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 52-13

1974 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 16-13

1975 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 24-17

1976 Cotton Bowl Tied 6-6

1977 Cotton Bowl Texas 13-6

1978 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 31-10

1979 Cotton Bowl Texas 16-7

1980 Cotton Bowl Texas 20-13

1981 Cotton Bowl Texas 34-14

1982 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 28-22

1983 Cotton Bowl Texas 28-16

1984 Cotton Bowl Tied 15-15

1985 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 14-7

1986 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 47-12

1987 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 44-9

1988 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 28-13

1989 Cotton Bowl Texas 28-24

1990 Cotton Bowl Texas 14-13

1991 Cotton Bowl Texas 10-7

1992 Cotton Bowl Texas 34-24

1993 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 38-17

1994 Cotton Bowl Texas 17-10

1995 Cotton Bowl Tied 24-24

1996 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 30-27

1997 Cotton Bowl Texas 27-24

1998 Cotton Bowl Texas 34-3

1999 Cotton Bowl Texas 37-27

2000 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 63-14

2001 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 14-3

2002 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 35-24

2003 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 65-13

2004 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 12-0

2005 Cotton Bowl Texas 45-12

2006 Cotton Bowl Texas 28-10

2007 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 28-21

2008 Cotton Bowl Texas 45-35

2009 Cotton Bowl Texas 16-13

2010 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 28-20

2011 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 55-17

2012 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 63-21

2013 Cotton Bowl Texas 36-20

2014 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 31-26

2015 Cotton Bowl Texas 24-17

2016 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 45-40

2017 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 29-24

2018 Cotton Bowl Texas 48-45

2018 Arlington Oklahoma 39-27

2019 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 34-27

2020 Cotton Bowl Oklahoma 53-45 (4OT) 

Oklahoma State

That they call it "Bedlam" pretty much tells you what you need to know. However, the series has been anything but equal. 

In the first 100 meetings, the Sooners went 77-16-7.

However, the lopsided outcomes did ramp up the hatred between the schools.  

"If OU wins the game you don't really hear much about it outside of the Sunday paper," former tight end Trent Smith said. "If OSU wins, it's Christmas all year for'em. A freaking orange Christmas.

"I don't like it when OSU gets to have Christmas all year and I don't."

Smith made the comment before the 2002 game, after the Sooners lost the year before. The Cowboys won again.

"Probably my favorite win," defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek said. "Best feeling I've ever had winning a football game."  

Oklahoma State last won in 2014, and the all-time record has grown to 90–18–7. What will become of the rivalry when the Sooners leave for the SEC is anyone's guess, although a number of teams in the league do play state rivals on Thanksgiving weekend, like Florida-Florida State and Georgia-Georgia Tech.  


This once fierce rivalry has lost a lot of its luster, beginning with the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996. With the league separating into divisions, the teams went from playing every year to twice every four years. 

Then the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten in 2011, and they haven't played since. However, the teams have each other on the schedule the next two seasons for a home-and-home, playing this season in Norman on Sept. 18. 

Some of their matchups are now considered legendary, especially when the teams were coached by Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne. 

"There's a foggy mystique about this whole rivalry," former Nebraska tailback Dan Alexander said. 

In 1959, Nebraska snapped Oklahoma's 74-game conference winning streak, and 16-game winning streak against the Cornhuskers. 

After Bob Devaney took over Nebraska in 1962, the winner of the Oklahoma game often had a shot at the national championship over the next 25 years. Moreover, the games were almost always close. Between 1970-88, the outcome was seven points or less 12 times.

Oklahoma gave Nebraska its only regular-season loss in 1964, 1966, 1975, 1979, and 1987. The Cornhuskers did likewise to the Sooners in 1971 and 1978, although the teams played twice during the latter season, meeting again in the Orange Bowl (won by Oklahoma). 

The most famous game in the series, though, was the epic Game of the Century on Nov 25, 1971, when they were ranked 1-2 in the Associated Press Poll. 

"Oklahoma was certainly the most memorable game of the year," Osborne said after his coaching career ended. "It was usually the last game of the year.

"As the series wore on, it seemed like it didn't make much difference what you did the previous 10 games. If you didn't win that one, you really didn't have a good year."

This is the third story in a series that will examine the history of the Sooners football program, and what it will bring to the SEC. Parts of this post originated from the book, Huddle Up: Oklahoma Football.

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