The annual Red River Rivalry series between Texas and Oklahoma isn't ending anytime soon, but Saturday's showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas is the last-scheduled Big 12 game between the longtime rivals. The Longhorns and Sooners leave for the SEC on July 1, 2024, ushering in a new chapter for one of college football's greatest annual spectacles.
There have been plenty of classics between Oklahoma and Texas since their first conference matchup in 1996, and another could be on deck Saturday. It will be the first time the Sooners and Longhorns have met with undefeated records since 2011, and as the only Big 12 teams that are currently ranked, a December rematch in the Big 12 Championship Game can't be ruled out.
For now, Oklahoma and Texas prepare to invade the State Fair of Texas one last time before trading the Big 12 logo for that of the SEC. The Longhorns lead the all-time series 63-50-5, but the Sooners own a 17-11 advantage since the schools joined the Big 12.
As this era prepares to end, here's a look back at five of the best matchups, chronologically listed, since the rivals became conference rivals.
2001: No. 3 Oklahoma 14, No 5. Texas 3
It's been 22 years since the top-five showdown when Oklahoma defensive back Roy Williams catapulted himself into Red River Rivalry lore with his "Superman" leap. Leading Texas 7-3 late in the game and the Longhorns pinned at their own 2-yard line, the Sooners All-American launched himself directly at Texas quarterback Chris Simms, soaring over running back Brett Robin before disrupting Simms' pass attempt out of the end zone. The ball floated all three yards before landing in the hands of Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman, who trotted right back across the goal line for the game-sealing touchdown. The triumph gave the Sooners consecutive wins in the series for the first time since the Barry Switzer era.
"I didn't know [Williams] left his feet," Lehman recalled of the play in a 2021 interview with ESPN. "I think I just barely kind of saw him passing by Chris Simms' backside, as the ball kind of flipped up in the air. ... The ball popped up, and I grabbed it."
2008: No. 5 Texas 45, No. 1 Oklahoma 35
Oklahoma quarterback and eventual Heisman winner Sam Bradford passed for 378 yards and five touchdowns, the Sooners led for nearly 45 minutes and yet it was a resilient Texas squad that won by 10 after trailing by as much as 11 on two occasions in the first half. From Jordan Shipley's 96-yard kickoff-return touchdown to Cody Johnson's trio of short-yardage touchdowns, the Longhorns kept punching back as they upended the top-ranked Sooners. The Texas defense also did its part by forcing a pair of turnovers, including an interception of Bradford that prevented Oklahoma from potentially re-taking a two-score lead before halftime.
Both teams finished the regular season 11-1 and were in the national title conversation, yet it was Oklahoma who received the chance to compete for the Big 12 championship despite Texas owning the head-to-head victory. BCS rankings were used to sort out a three-way tie between Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech atop the Big 12 South Division, giving the No. 2 Sooners the nod over the Longhorns and Red Raiders.
2018: No. 19 Texas 48, No. 7 Oklahoma 45
Texas appeared on its way to a sizable upset of Oklahoma when the Longhorns held a 45-24 lead entering the fourth quarter. Quarterbacked by eventual Heisman winner Kyler Murray, the Sooners offense then woke up. In a span of just under six minutes, Oklahoma scored three consecutive touchdowns to erase the 21-point deficit, tying the game at 45-all with 2:38 to spare in regulation.
Despite the frantic rally, there was more than enough time on the clock for Texas to regroup and allow kicker Cameron Dicker to become a Red River Rivalry hero. With nine seconds remaining, Texas lined up for a 40-yard field goal attempt, which Dicker booted straight through the uprights. Instantaneously, the legend of "Dicker the Kicker" was born as the Longhorns prevailed in what was then the highest-scoring game in series history.
2020: Oklahoma 53, No. 22 Texas 45 (4 OT)
Has a more bizarre Red River Rivalry game ever been contested? Oklahoma and Texas found themselves playing in front of a drastically reduced crowd at the Cotton Bowl due to COVID-19 restrictions before four overtimes were needed to crown a winner. The quadruple overtime finish was as dramatic as it was improbable. The Sooners carried a 31-17 lead with less than four minutes to play before the Longhorns rallied for two late touchdowns, tying the game with just 14 seconds left in regulation.
The teams then traded highlight-reel touchdowns and even missed field goals across the first three overtimes before Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler's 25-yard touchdown pass to Drake Stoops in the fourth overtime proved to be the difference. Texas had a chance to force a fifth overtime, but Sooners defensive back Tre Brown intercepted Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger on second down to end the game, bailing out Oklahoma from an 0-3 start to Big 12 play. The 53-45 final broke the scoring record from just two years prior. Spoiler: That new record was also on borrowed time.
2021: No. 6 Oklahoma 55, No. 21 Texas 48
It's not recency bias. Some of the recent Red River Rivalry games have just been that good. The fireworks were immediate in this one. Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy housed a 75-yard touchdown on the opening play from scrimmage as the Longhorns shot out to a 28-7 lead in the first quarter. Oklahoma's shaky start eventually prompted coach Lincoln Riley to bench quarterback Spencer Rattler in favor of true freshman Caleb Williams in the middle of the game. It was a gamble that paid off.
The Sooners found new life with Williams in the game. He accounted for three touchdowns, and by midway through the fourth quarter, a 21-point deficit for Oklahoma had become a 48-41 lead. Texas tied the game on Worthy's second touchdown with just 1:23 remaining, but it left Oklahoma with enough time to deliver the dagger. With three seconds remaining, Sooners running back Kennedy Brooks ripped off a 33-yard touchdown, completing the biggest comeback in series history as the scoring record fell once again.
Just missed the cut
1996: Oklahoma 30, No. 25 Texas 27 (OT) -- The Longhorns were upended by an 0-4 Sooners squad in a game full of firsts. Not only was it the first conference matchup between the two rivals, but it was also the first time a Red River Rivalry game -- or any game for the infant Big 12 -- was decided by college football's newly-introduced overtime rules.
2004: No. 2 Oklahoma 12, No. 5 Texas 0 -- Even if not on the main list, this classic from the height of the Bob Stoops vs. Mack Brown era deserves mention. The top five showdown featured a breakout performance for Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson. In just his fifth college game, Peterson rushed for 225 yards as the Sooners blanked the Longhorns for what remains tied as the lowest-scoring game in Big 12 history.