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Best of The Red River Rivalry
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Inside Look At What Has Made the OU-Texas Series So Great
The debate rages on every autumn.
Best rivalry in college football?
We’re all too familiar with the candidates.
Michigan-Ohio State. Army-Navy. USC-Notre Dame. Alabama-Auburn. Georgia-Florida. Stanford-Cal.
Even BYU-Utah for a sleeper.
They’re all special, for various reasons.
’Round here, however, nothing compares to OU-Texas. For all sorts of reasons.
The Red River Rivalry delivers in every way.
The high stakes. The neutral field situated smack dab in the middle of the two campuses. The bonus carnival atmosphere of the State Fair of Texas.
The competitiveness of the series.
Yeah, ’round here, OU-Texas is best.
And here’s a look at the best of OU-Texas — from games, players, plays and nicknames, and everything in between:
1. 1958: Texas 15, OU 14 — Quarterback Bobby Lackey threw a 7-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal, then added the decisive PAT with 3:10 to play to direct a stunning upset of the No. 2-ranked Sooners.
2. 1975: OU 24, Texas 17 — This classic showdown provided two of the memory-searing moments in series history (see Best Plays). With the Sooners on their way to a national championship, they overcame mistakes to prevail with big plays in the fourth quarter.
3. 1968: Texas 26, OU 20 — Steve Worster scored on a 7-yard run with 39 seconds to play, lifting the Longhorns in a see-saw affair. UT safety Fred Steinmark intercepted a Bobby Warmack pass deep in Longhorns territory to clinch the verdict.
4. 1996: OU 30, Texas 27, OT — The Sooners scored 11 points in the final seven minutes to force overtime, before James Allen ran OU to victory. Allen used five runs from the 25 to score the winning touchdown, after the Horns had kicked a field goal with their OT possession. The Sooners ended a seven-game losing streak — the longest in school history.
5. 1977: Texas 13, OU 6 — The Longhorns were in a pinch when quarterbacks Mark McBath and Jon Aune were lost to first-quarter injuries. But third-teamer Randy McEachern stepped out of obscurity to guide the offense. Earl Campbell ran for 124 yards and a TD and Russell Erxleben kicked field goals of 64 and 58 yards.
1. 1905: OU 2, Texas 0 — Times were different, and rules, too, apparently. With time running out on a scoreless tie, Sooner center Bob Severin halted UT’s Don Robinson on a running play and carried him back across the goal line for the game’s only score. It was OU’s first ever win in the series.
2. 1990: Texas 14, OU 13 — On fourth-and-7, UT quarterback Peter Gardere tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Keith Cash with two minutes to play, completing a 91-yard drive. The Sooners nearly flipped the finish, but R.D. Lashar missed a 46-yard field goal as time expired.
3. 1915: OU 14, Texas 13 — The Sooners’ Spot Geyer threw for 232 yards — 140 in the fourth quarter — including a TD pass to Hap Johnson late. Geyer then had to make the extra point from a severe angle, according to the rules of the day, which required PATs to come from the spot where the TD was scored.
4. 1974: OU 16, Texas 13 — The second-ranked Sooners trailed 13-7 in the fourth quarter, but Billy Brooks’ 40-yard reverse for a touchdown seemed to be enough to pull it out. But after John Carroll’s missed extra point, OU needed — and got — a field goal to win, with Tony DiRienzo booting a 37-yarder.
5. 1950: OU 14, Texas 13 — With the Sooners ranked No. 3 and Texas No. 4, the winner would move ahead in the national title chase. The Horns led 13-7 late, before OU’s Dean Smith and Frankie Anderson swarmed Texas punter Bill Porter at his own 11-yard line following a low snap. Billy Vessels scored from there, lifting the Sooners and sending them on their way to the program’s first national championship.
1. Tie Died — The Sooners threatened to upset the No. 1-ranked Longhorns in the rain in 1984, but had two bad calls go against them in the closing minutes. After a missed UT fumble at midfield, officials ruled that OU defensive back Keith Stanberry didn’t have possession of an interception in the end zone on the same game-ending drive. On the next play, as time expired, UT’s Jeff Ward booted a field goal to forge a 15-15 tie.
2. Spy-Gate — UT legend Darrell Royal coached his final game in the series in 1976, but went out screaming foul, claiming OU assistant coach Larry Lacewell employed spies to watch Longhorns practices. Royal proclaimed he’d quit if Lacewell passed a lie detector test to the contrary.
3. Brawl Game — Texas won a ragged 9-6 game in 1962, but with four seconds left in the game, fists flew among the Sooners and Longhorns. Benches emptied and the melee extended from the OU 40- and 20-yard lines. Two dozen policemen had to intervene.
4. Zebra Rule — Texas used a disputed touchdown just before the half to pull even in 1947, then used the momentum to roll 34-14. Bud Wilkinson’s debut as head coach was marred when OU fans — upset at several calls — littered the field with Coke bottles.
5. Howard Schnellenberger — Schnelly never much took to OU football history and tradition, but his buffoon status kicked up a notch when he called the famed Cotton Bowl ramp the “rampart,” making Sooner fans wonder when he’d be out the door.
Best Players (OU)
1. Joe Washington, RB — A true Texas killer, keying four wins from 1972-75. He finished with two 100-yard rushing games, 325 rushing yards overall, threw a touchdown pass and provided a famous play with his leg (stay tuned).
2. Quentin Griffin, RB — The quiet Sooner running back played loud against Texas. He scored a school-record six touchdowns against the Horns in a 2000 rout, ran for the only offensive TD in a 2001 win and rushed for a career-best 248 yards in 2002, adding a big 17-yard TD romp.
3. Steve Owens, RB — Owens never walked off the field a winner against Texas, yet it wasn’t for lack of effort. He ran for at least 100 yards in three close losses, finishing with 356 yards against great Longhorn defenses.
4. James Allen, RB — Allen’s career was star-crossed, but he tended to produce against Texas. Two of his five career 100-yard games came against the Longhorns and he was huge in OU’s only two wins over Texas in the ’90s.
5. Steve Davis, QB — The underrated QB never lost to Texas during two Sooner national title runs. In his first Red River game in 1973, Davis ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more. He ran for OU’s only offensive TD in ’74 and helmed another win in a showdown of top-5 teams in ’75.
Best Players (Texas)
1. Bobby Layne, QB — Played in four wins over the Sooners, starting three. His success streak began with a two-touchdown passing day as a freshman in 1944.
2. Peter Gardere, QB — This one game, OU-Texas, cemented Gardere in the series lore. Ordinary outside the Cotton Bowl, Gardere directed four Longhorn wins from behind center.
3. Ricky Williams, RB — The Sooners held Williams to four yards on eight carries as a freshman and still he finished with 465 yards in the series, getting 223 in UT’s 27-24 win in ’97.
4. Tommy Nobis, LB — The Longhorns great played three times against the Sooners, games in which they managed 14 points — combined. Nobis’ early interception in ’65 paved the way for a 19-0 shutout.
5. Scott Appleton, DT — An All-American on the UT front, Appleton dominated the 1963 clash of heavyweights. He caused a fumble and recovered another, each setting up TDs in a 28-7 win.
1. Superman — Sooner safety Roy Williams placed an unforgettable memory on the 2001 game, flying through the air to crash into Texas QB Chris Simms, forcing a turnover to clinch a 14-3 OU win.
2. Quick Kick — During OU’s run to the 1975 national championship, running back Joe Washington drilled a 76-yard quick kick to help stave off the Longhorns.
3. Stoned — With the Sooners down 17-10 and trying to rally inside the final minute in 1994, Stoney Clark, a 343-pound nose guard, slammed down James Allen on a fourth-down reverse just outside the goal line.
4. Sideline Sprint — Stuck behind Washington and Elvis Peacock at halfback, Horace Ivory was moved to fullback for the 1975 game. His 33-yard scoring romp down the sideline broke a 17-17 tie and proved the difference in a 24-17 win.
5. “Great” Start — Freshman quarterback Peter Gardere fired a pass to Johnny Walker with 1:33 left in 1989, lifting Texas to a 28-24 upset of the Sooners. It was the first of Gardere’s four wins over OU, earning him the nickname “Peter the Great.”
1. Mossy Cade, Texas — Great defensive back of the early ’80s played a major role in three Longhorn wins.
2. Elvis Peacock, OU — First or last name, a rare Sooner star from the state of Florida. Middle name: Zaring. Played on two national title teams.
3. Bill Boy Bryant, Texas — What says Texas better than Billy Boy?
4. Cotton Speyrer, Texas — Wide receiver was a favorite target of Longhorn great QB James Street.
5. Granville Liggins, OU — “Granny” was the UPI Lineman of the Year and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy vote in 1967.
1. Lam and Ham — A pair of Johnny Jones who arrived at UT in 1976, Lam hailed from Lampasas, Texas, while Ham was from Hamlin.
2. Mule Train — Leon Heath scored a TD and added a 68-yard run to highlight OU’s 20-14 win in 1948.
3. Happy Feller — James Patrick Feller was surely happy after the ’68 and ’69 games in which he contributed a combined five field goals to Texas wins.
4. The Boz — Brian Bosworth flaunted his hatred for burnt orange and backed it up on the field.
5. Cactus Face — OU’s Gilford Duggan was an All-American tackle who went 2-0-1 against the Longhorns from 1937-39.
1. Darrell Royal, Texas — A former Sooner star, Royal went 12-7-1 while coaching the most games of any coach in the history of the series.
2. Barry Switzer, OU — The King ushered out the Royal era and spun the series in OU’s favor, winning his first three Red River showdowns and going 9-5-2 overall.
3. Dana X. Bible, Texas — Went 7-2-1 during a successful run from the mid-30s to the mid-40s.
4. Bud Wilkinson, OU — Bud’s series history was up and down. He tied for the most wins among Sooner coaches with nine, but also lost eight, including a record six straight from 1958-63.
5. Bob Stoops, OU — After an initial setback in his debut season of 1999, Stoops ripped off five straight wins, before losing three of his last four to stand 6-4.
Best Fair Food
1. Fletcher’s Corny dog — They keep frying up new ideas — deep fried butter!? — but there’s something about the original that keeps us coming back. The corn dog was born here and the Fletcher’s edition is the best anywhere. Note: Always up for a twist, the new Sweet Jalapeno Corn Dog Shrimp is intriguing.
2. Deep Fried Peaches and Cream — Winner of the Best Taste competition, this is serious, sweet goodness.
3. Green Goblins — Cherry peppers are hollowed out, stuffed with spicy shredded chicken and guacamole, battered and fried, served three to a stick and topped with queso.
4. Texas Pig Candy — Fire in the hole! Sweet and spicy cocktail sausages glazed with brown sugar, raspberry chipotle and cayenne pepper. Oven baked and topped with sliced jalapenos.
5. Texas Fried Pecan Pie — Battered and fried, then drizzled with rich caramel and topped with whipped cream and candied pecans.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Sept. 30 issue of Sooner Spectator magazine. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877 or go to our on-line store and sign up today!)