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TOP 10: Red River Rivalry Games

The Horn looks at the ten best matchups between the Sooners and the Longhorns. See which game ranks in at number one.
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This week’s Red River Rivalry marks the first time since 1999 that neither Texas nor Oklahoma comes into the annual contest ranked in the Top 10. Nevertheless, it’s a much-anticipated game that has BCS (and Big 12 Championship) ramifications. With that in mind, we’ll take a look back at the 10 best matchups between the Longhorns and Sooners throughout the 112-year rivalry.

#10: 1976 – OU came into this contest facing allegations from Coach Darrell Royal that the Sooners had spied on Texas’ practices. Nevertheless, the game week continued, accumulating much hype to go along with the feud that existed between Coach Royal and Coach Barry Switzer. Both teams gutted out a tough-fought contest in which star tailback Earl Campbell was largely held in check by the Sooner defense. Texas led late in the game by a score of 6-0, but Oklahoma was able to tie it up with a score by Horace Ivory. The Sooners never got to attempt the extra point, however, as a poor snap would ultimately force this game into a painful 6-6 tie.

#9: 1996 – Neither team was highly-ranked in this contest (Texas was No. 25, OU unranked), but as always, those measuring sticks were thrown out of the window for this matchup in Dallas’ Cotton Bowl. It was the first Red River Rivalry to also be a Big 12 Conference game, as 1996 served was the conference’s inaugural season. Fittingly, this matchup between the Longhorns and the Sooners would also become the first overtime game of the nearly century-long rivalry. Sooner tailback James Allen was the star of the contest, bringing Oklahoma back to within three points late in the game, as Jeremy Alexandar sent the game into overtime with a 44-yard field goal. Texas’ Phil Dawson would tack on a field goal on Texas’ first possession in overtime, but that would not be enough as James Allen scored from within the 5-yard line to give Oklahoma the 30-27 victory.

#8: 1984 – This game featured a young Mack Brown—33 years old at the time—on the opposite sideline from the burnt orange and white. Brown was the offensive coordinator under Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer that year. The Longhorns came into the game ranked No. 1, with the Sooners holding the No. 2 spot in the national standings. OU rallied from behind to take a 3-point lead late in the final minute, forcing the Longhorns to have to complete a long final drive to tie or win the game. Todd Dodge, the Longhorns’ starting quarterback, was intercepted on a throw to the endzone on a 3rd-down in the red zone, but a controversial call by an official ruled the defensive back to be out of bounds. This gave Texas a final down, on which they opted to kick a field goal. The attempt was successful and forced the game into a 15-15 tie.

#7: 1994 –Led by running back Priest Holmes, the No. 15 Texas Longhorns slowly worked their way to a 17-10 lead late in the fourth quarter. However, the determined Sooners made a final drive that brought them to a fourth down situation on Texas’ 3-yard line, with a little over 40 seconds remaining. Sooner head coach Gary Gibbs called a reverse for running back James Allen lined up in the slot on the right hash. Allen received the handoff, juked by one Texas defender, and looked poised to take it into the endzone with relative ease. However, with a play that would become known as the “Stone Cold Stop”, Texas defensive lineman Stoney Clark met Allen with a forceful hit at the 1-yard line that dropped the tailback short of the goal line. With that great defensive play, Texas pulled out the 17-10 victory.

#6: 2000 – This game contained quite a few records. A couple in particular that Longhorn fans wouldn’t mind forgetting. It never was close, as Oklahoma romped to a 63-14 victory. Not only was this the largest margin of victory in a Red River Rivalry game at the time, but Sooner running back Quentin Griffin also tied the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns in a game with six. On the other hand, Texas finished with a negative total of rushing yards and suffered a beating they wouldn’t soon forget. Oklahoma rode this win to a national championship and five straight wins over the Longhorns in future Red River Rivalry games. That streak would finally come to an end in 2005.

#5: 2004 – This contest was a defensive battle throughout. A young sophomore quarterback in Vince young was pitted against Oklahoma’s Jason White, with the two combining for 199 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions (both of which belonged to White). However, despite the passing woes for the Sooners, tailback Adrian Peterson helped himself to 225 yards on 32 carries, but somehow failed to find the endzone. That duty was left up to backup Kejuan Jones, who scored the only touchdown of the game with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. As was the theme of the game, Texas couldn’t finish a drive once crossing midfield, and that’s how the game ended. The contest marked the first time Texas had been shut out since 1980—a streak of 281 games.

#4: 2009 – The major headline heading into this contest between No. 3 Texas and No. 20 Oklahoma was Sam Bradford’s injury that he suffered earlier in the season. Surprisingly, though, the quarterback made the start for the Sooners and hoped to lead his team to an upset over the National Title-minded Longhorns. Unfortuanely, Bradford reinjured his right throwing shoulder after being tackled by cornerback Aaron Williams. Landry Jones was forced to step up in Bradford’s absence, and he actually played well, minus his two picks. Jones outgained Colt McCoy through the air and equaled his touchdown total of one. It goes without saying that the Heisman hopeful quarterback from Texas underwhelmed on the big stage in Dallas, and seemed to give the game away on a late interception. Fortunately, McCoy made a touchdown-saving tackle on that same play, and the Texas defense did the rest. Oklahoma was held to -16 yards rushing and Texas took the game, 16-13.

#3: 2007 – This was a quarterback battle, much of the way. Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy combined for 568 passing yards and five touchdowns, while DeMarco Murray outperformed Texas’ Jamaal Charles on the ground to the tune of 128 yards and a score. Charles managed just 79 yards on 17 carries. A back-and-forth game began with a touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham, which was then followed by 14 consecutive points by the Longhorns on two Colt McCoy touchdown throws. Oklahoma was able to tie it up at 14 apiece before half, then added another score late in the third quarter on a 65-yard touchdown dash by DeMarco Murray. McCoy answered right back with a 70-yard drive capped off by a Vondrell McGee rushing score. However, just four minutes later, Sam Bradford sealed his own great drive (12 plays, 96 yards) with a 35-yard pass to Malcolm Kelly. That would serve as the final score of the game, giving the Sooners a 28-21 victory over the Longhorns.

#2: 2001 – A year prior, Oklahoma’s Quentin Griffin scored six times on the ground as the Sooners blew out the Longhorns by 49 points. 2001 was a much closer contest, as OU led Texas late by a score of 7-3, the margin the same as it was at halftime, as a Quentin Griffin touchdown took the game into intermission. But by the 2-minute mark of the fourth quarter, a Nathan Vasher mental blunder on a punt return forced the Texas offense to operate from their own 3-yard line. Chris Simms took the first-down snap, dropped back to pass, and was met by a leaping Roy Williams as he released the football. Williams’ “Superman” hurdle over a Texas running back forced a wobbly pass that hung in the air at the line of scrimmage before Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman intercepted it and took two steps into the endzone for the defensive touchdown. The extra-point made it 14-3, which would be the final score.

#1: 2008 – The highest-scoring affair in Red River Rivalry history took place this year behind the arms of opposing quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. Texas came in ranked No. 5 in the nation, taking on the top-ranked Sooners. This game saw it all. From five passing touchdowns by Same Bradford, to a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, as well as two interceptions by Longhorn safety Earl Thomas. Texas trailed until late in the third quarter, but it was definitely a heavyweight title bout, as each team continually answered the other’s score with one of their own. Texas dominated the ground game, with Chris Ogbonnaya rushing for 127 yards and Cody Johnson chipping in with three rushing scores from the goal line. OU would regain the lead a few minutes into the final quarter via a touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to wideout Manuel Johnson, but Texas scored 15 straight points to seal the 45-35 victory. This game proved to be one of three major outcomes in the Big 12 that would cause controversy later in the year as OU lost to Texas, Texas lost to Texas Tech, and Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma, creating a three-way tie atop the Big 12 Conference.

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