It should come as no surprise that some of the games in this century-old rivalry have not always been friendly contests
The Red River Showdown (or Rivalry or Shootout) between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners is more relevant than it has been in the past several years. Both teams are coming in ranked for the first time since 2012.
Then again, does that really matter? These two teams want to proverbially jab a thumb in each other’s eyes every year — rankings be damned. With that line of thinking in mind, here are the five nastiest games in the history of this rivalry. (Note: All of these games were played in Dallas)
5. Texas 28, Oklahoma 16 – Oct. 8, 1983
The Longhorns had a bone to pick with sophomore running back Marcus Dupree. First, the phenomenal running back had reported recruiting violations that in part led to NCAA probation for Texas. Then in 1982, he blistered Texas’s defense, averaging ten yards a carry in a 28-22 OU win. When the two teams met again in 1983, the Sooners were a dysfunctional team and Dupree was warring with head coach Barry Switzer. Texas pounced, holding him to 50 yards and giving him a concussion. Dupree went home to Mississippi and quit the team, leaving Switzer and Sooner fans to wonder what might have been.
4. Oklahoma 63, Texas 14 – Oct. 7, 2000
Having been out of college football’s elite ranks for more than ten years, OU announced its return with a thrashing of the Longhorns in the rain. It was the first time both teams had entered the game ranked since 1984, but the Sooners ended hopes for a competitive contest by scoring touchdowns on its first five drives. Oklahoma would go undefeated and win the national title that season.
3. Texas 15, Oklahoma 14 – Oct. 11, 1958
Oklahoma had gone 52-2-1 since 1953 and had beaten Texas for the past six seasons. In this contest, Texas head coach Darrell Royal wasted no time trying to take the fight to his mentor and Sooner head coach Bud Wilkinson. The Longhorns used a halfback touchdown pass and a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 halftime lead, but the Sooners charged back in the second half to a 14-8 lead. Late in the fourth quarter, Texas responded with a gutsy drive punctuated by a touchdown jump pass. The Longhorns then intercepted an Oklahoma pass to clinch the win. Texas would go on to win the next seven games against OU.
2. Oklahoma 48, Texas 27 – Oct. 9, 1971
Imagine teaching someone how to build a fire and then he uses that knowledge to burn down your house. That’s what this game represents. Texas had first taken the field with the Wishbone offense and had racked up 30 straight victories. Royal was generous in sharing information about the Wishbone and when his friend and OU head coach Chuck Fairbanks was facing pressure to win, he helped the Sooners as well… to his own detriment. In 1971, OU fielded a team that went 11-1 and averaged an NCAA record 472 rushing yards a game. One of those wins was this game in which the Longhorns were competitive but could not stop OU’s rushing attack. Royal never beat OU again after 1970.
1. Oklahoma 6, Texas 6 – Oct. 9, 1976
Earlier in the week, Royal had accused the OU coaching staff of spying on their preparations. Switzer denied the allegations at the time but admitted to them almost 15 years later. Regardless, the situation worsened when an AP reporter overheard Royal say, “Why those sorry bastards, I don't trust 'em on anything." The statement made it into print and OU fans greeted him with the chant, “Sorry bastards, sorry bastards.” For the pregame coin toss, Switzer and Royal walked onto the field with President Gerald Ford, who was in his own tough contest with Jimmy Carter to win Texas in the 1976 presidential election. An OU fan screamed, “Who are those two assholes with Switzer?” and the stadium erupted into laughter. Texas kicked two field goals and held the Sooner offense to two first downs in the first 55 minutes. Then OU recovered a fumble at the Texas 37-yard line and drove down the field for a score. However, the Sooners missed the extra point and their five-game win streak over Texas came to an end. An exhausted Royal vomited on the way to the locker room. He would retire at the end of the season.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.