Oklahoma Sooners: Red River Rivalry

videoOklahoma delivered an eye-opener on the national landscape Saturday with its 63-21 win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Sooners dialed up play after play with great success against the Longhorns. Yet there were five key first-half plays that set the tone in OU’s blowout victory:

OU’s thirrd-and-8 conversion on its first possession

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAaron Colvin picked off a pass in the first half against Texas, his second interception of the season.
This was a key play because the Sooners would have started the game three-and-out.


DALLAS -- Oklahoma beat Texas every which way en route to a dominant 63-21 victory at the Cotton Bowl.

It was over when: Backup quarterback Blake Bell plunged over the goal line for his fourth touchdown to put OU ahead 36-2 three minutes before halftime. The rout was on from there.

Game ball goes to: OU fullback Trey Millard, who had his best offensive performance as a Sooner. Known more for his blocking, Millard led OU with 119 yards receiving and a touchdown on five catches. He also rushed for 45 yards on three carries.

Stat of the game: The Sooners produced both their longest rush and longest pass in the history of the Red River Rivalry. Damien Williams’ 95-yard touchdown put OU up 13-2 late in the first quarter. Millard’s 73-yard reception -- in which he a hurdled a Texas defender -- set up the Sooners’ fourth touchdown.

Turning point: Late in the first quarter, Texas punter Alex King pinned OU inside its own 5-yard line. But Williams broke free along the sideline and, with a key block from teammate Kenny Stills, raced 95 yards for a touchdown to put the Sooners up 13-2. Texas failed to generate any momentum the rest of the game.

Unsung hero: Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, whose game plan completely shut down the nation’s sixth-highest scoring offense. Texas was held to just 74 rushing yards, and quarterback David Ash was forced into three turnovers.

What it means: The Sooners are right back in the thick of the Big 12 title race, and maybe the national championship picture, too. Voters are likely to take notice of OU’s dominant Red River performance. With back-to-back losses, Texas will have its work cut out getting off the mat after getting destroyed by its biggest rival.
On Saturday, Oklahoma and Texas will meet in a game that is critical for each team’s hope of winning a Big 12 title. It also happens to be one of college football’s best rivalries.

The Sooners face the Longhorns at 11 a.m. CT at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on Saturday morning:

1. Who wins the turnover battle?

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Way-too-early OU-Texas predictions 

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
9:00
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As the conclusion of our Red River Rivalry in July package, the staffs of SoonerNation and HornsNation are making way-too-early predictions on the Oct. 13 OU-Texas game. Here are the HornsNation staff's picks. Give your prediction on our forum. Insider

Oklahoma 21, Texas 16

Obviously this prediction will change between now and October, but as of today, it's hard to see this game turning into a shootout. Texas is overflowing with all-conference-caliber players defensively; OU's secondary is loaded with stars. Both offenses will have trouble scoring, but the Sooners have the more experienced QB in four-year starter Landry Jones. That usually is the difference between winning and losing in this game.

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For Oklahoma, it’s one thing to lose a recruiting battle to the University of Texas.

It’s quite another to watch that player become an impact performer at the Cotton Bowl in early October. Here’s a look at a few players who picked the Longhorns over the Sooners then stepped up their play against OU, leaving Sooner Nation left to wonder: What if?

Running back Earl Campbell, Tyler, Texas/John Tyler, Class of 1974
After in-home visits from OU head coach Barry Switzer and Texas head coach Darrell Royal, Campbell narrowed his list to the Sooners and Longhorns. He made a campus visit in Norman but committed to UT during his campus visit in Austin. According to his official website, Campbell was still unsure as signing day neared, so he prayed. "God, if it's your will that I should attend the University of Texas, then I'll get up during the night to pee. If not, if I sleep through the night, then I'll know your choice for me will be the University of Oklahoma."

Clearly, Campbell did not sleep through the night.

And the Sooners, particularly Coach Switzer, will always lament his active bladder. His 25-yard touchdown run against the Sooners during his Heisman-winning season in 1977 is one of the "go-to" highlights of Campbell's days in a Longhorns uniform.

Campbell went on to be an Heisman Trophy winner, two-time All-American and three-time All-SWC performer during his time at Texas. He finished with 4,443 career rushing yards and 41 touchdowns. He's also a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

[+] EnlargeJackson Jeffcoat
Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty ImagesDefensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who chose Texas over OU, has been projected to be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, Plano, Texas/Plano West, Class of 2010
Sooners fans still watch Jeffcoat with an air of discontent. And they have at least one more season to watch him create problems for opposing offenses with his combination of strength and speed off the edge.

With his twin sister Jacqueline heading to Norman to play basketball for Sherri Coale, OU fans undoubtedly felt like they had the upper hand during the recruitment of Jeffcoat. The elite defensive end prospect was fairly quiet during his recruitment, keeping his options close to the vest and always maintaining that his relationship with his sister would not impact his decision.

As signing day neared, he chose the Longhorns.

Two years later, Jeffcoat is a member of multiple preseason watch lists after earning second-team All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore. He has started 15 of 21 career games and enters his junior season with 81 career tackles, including 27 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.

Jeffcoat was one of Texas’ lone bright spots during its 55-17 loss to OU last season with four tackles, including two tackles for loss.

Linebacker Derrick Johnson, Waco, Texas/Waco, Class of 2001
Johnson spurned the Sooners, Baylor and others to play at Texas. And he became a star in Austin.

He earned the Bronco Nagurski (top defensive player) and Butkus Award (top linebacker) during his career. Johnson was a two-time All-American, two-time All-Big 12 first-teamer and 2004 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Johnson started 40 of 50 career games and finished with 458 tackles, including 65 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and nine interceptions. He created havoc for opposing offenses, from sideline-to-sideline, during his four-year career, becoming one of the top linebackers in UT history.

And even though Johnson never beat the Sooners, he was a nightmare for OU’s offense during his four Red River Rivalry battles. He had 49 tackles and two interceptions against the Sooners, forcing OU fans to leave the Cotton Bowl with a combination of emotions, meshing the joy of victory with a twinge of envy.
October 13, 2012: vs. Texas (in Dallas)
2011 record: 8-5 | 2011 conference record: 4-5 (Big 12)
OU’s all-time against Texas: 42-59-5

Top returners: QB David Ash, RB Malcolm Brown, WR Marquise Goodwin, WR Jaxon Shipley, WR Mike Davis, OT Trey Hopkins, OT Josh Cochran, C Dominic Espinosa, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, DE Alex Okafor, DT Ashton Dorsey, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Quandre Diggs, CB Carrington Byndom, S Kenny Vaccaro

Key losses: FB Cody Johnson, RB Fozzy Whittaker, G David Snow, DT Kheeston Randall, LB Emmanuel Acho, LB Keenan Robinson, S Blake Gideon, S Christian Scott, K Justin Tucker

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Malcolm Brown* (742 yards)
Passing: David Ash* (1,068 yards)
Receiving: Mike Davis* (609 yards)
Tackles: Emmanuel Acho (131)
Sacks: Jackson Jeffcoat* (7)
Interceptions: Quandre Diggs* (4)

What they’re saying: "I think we're back more to '08." – Texas coach Mack Brown, comparing this year’s squad with the one in 2008 that went 12-1.

Three things to watch:

1. For Texas to contend for a Big 12 title, David Ash must play like an upper-echelon Big 12 quarterback. Ash has the talent, and he’s shown flashes. But he’s yet to perform at that level on a consistent basis. QB play is the biggest reason why Texas has endured back-to-back mediocre seasons. But Ash takes care of the ball and makes his share of plays, the Longhorns will be dangerous.

2. The Longhorns, potentially, have the best defense in the Big 12, and one of the best in the country. Ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, who combined for 15 sacks last season, will give Texas a lethal presence off the edge. The Horns also have a pair of lockdown cornerbacks in Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs. Defense hasn’t been Texas’ problem, and this season, it figures to be a massive strength.

3. The battle of the oranges in Stillwater on Sept. 29 will be critical for both Texas and Oklahoma State, giving the winner the inside track to compete with OU, West Virginia and TCU for the conference crown. Should Texas lose that game, the Longhorns could slip into a free fall, with back-to-back games against the Mountaineers and Sooners looming next.

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On Monday in our Red River Rivalry in July series, we looked at some of the most memorable plays in OU-Texas history. Today we're looking at the rivalry's villains, the players Sooners fans loathe because of their performances at the Cotton Bowl.

Here are five Longhorns villains throughout OU-Texas history:

Peter Gardere
No player broke Sooners’ hearts more than Texas QB Peter Gardere. Nicknamed “Peter the Great” for his Cotton Bowl antics, Gardere finished as the only QB on either side to go 4-0 as a starter in the series.

In 1989 and 1990, Gardere led the Horns on game-winning, come-from-behind, fourth-quarter touchdown drives. In 1992, he broke a then-Texas Red River Rivalry record with 274 passing yards as the Longhorns routed OU. In all four games under Gardere, Texas entered the Cotton Bowl unranked. OU, meanwhile, was No. 15, No. 4, No. 6 and No. 16 and favored in every game.

[+] EnlargePeteir Gardere
Joe Patronite/Getty ImagesTexas quarterback Peter Gardere beat the Sooners four straight seasons.
In his career, Gardere was just 25-16 as a starter, and played through a pair of losing seasons. But in Austin -- and in Norman -- he will forever be remembered for his performances in Dallas.

Tommy Nobis
The greatest defender in Texas history also saved his best performances for the Sooners. Tommy Nobis was actually heavily recruited by Bud Wilkinson, but opted to stay in the Lone Star State and make life miserable for Wilkinson and the Sooners.

The Sooners scored 14 points -- total -- in three games against Nobis, all convincing Texas wins. In 1963, Nobis and tackle Scott Appleton dominated the Sooners in the first matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the series. Texas won 28-7 in a game that wasn’t near as close as the final score. In 1964, he recorded 21 tackles in another Texas whitewashing, and in 1965 picked off a pass as UT shut out the Sooners for the first time in 21 years. The same season, Nobis won the Outland Trophy and earned consensus All-American honors.

(Read full post)

As part of our Red River Rivalry in July, we look at five plays from the Red River Rivalry that Longhorns fans would rather forget. Check out five memorable plays from a Texas perspective here. Vote for your favorite play on our forum. Insider

Superman takes off
In Oklahoma, they still call it the "Superman Play." In Texas, they call it a nightmare. Late in the fourth quarter of the 2001 Red River Rivalry, Texas had the ball at its own 2-yard line after an ill-advised punt return attempt by Nathan Vasher. The Sooners had dominated quarterback Chris Simms and company all afternoon. Still, the Longhorns trailed just 7-3 with enough time to put a game-winning drive together. Turned out, Texas' drive would last one play.

Utilizing the media timeout, the Stoops brothers dialed up a Roy Williams blitz, termed "Slamdogs." Earlier in the game, Williams leaped on Slamdogs and was upended, allowing Simms to scramble for a first down. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops cautioned Williams not to leave his feet this time. Thanks goodness for the Sooners, Williams didn’t listen. He vaulted over Texas running back Brett Robin and into Simms' chest. The ball popped into the arms of OU linebacker Teddy Lehman, who walked into the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown.

Roy Williams
AP Photo/Tim SharpSafety Roy Williams' "Superman" dive clinched the Sooners' win over Texas in 2001.
Joe kicks Texas deep
Wishbone halfback Joe Washington is remembered most for his silver shoes and sweet moves – and the longest punt in OU-Texas history. In 1975, both the Sooners and Longhorns were loaded. The Sooners, led by Washington on offense and Outland winner Lee Roy Selmon on defense, entered the Cotton Bowl ranked second after winning the 1974 national championship. Texas, spearheaded by running back Earl Campbell, was ranked fifth.

The Sooners led by 10 into the fourth quarter, but Texas hung tough. After the Longhorns trimmed the deficit to 17-14 on a 30-yard run, they recovered an OU fumble on the ensuing drive, and Russell Erxleben nailed a 43-yard field goal to tie the game. OU regained the lead 24-17, then forced Texas to punt. Problem was, Erxleben’s punt traveled 65 yards to the OU 8-yard line.

After two plays, including a Washington fumble the Sooners fortunately recovered, OU faced third-and-eight from the 10. With still almost three minutes to go, the Longhorns almost certainly would get the ball back with excellent field position and a chance to tie. Instead, Barry Switzer signaled in the "quick kick" – a play that would totally stun the Longhorns. Out of the Wishbone, Washington got the direct snap, turned sideways and belted the ball with a sweeping kick. The Longhorns had no one deep, and when the ball stopped rolling, it had traveled 76 yards. Game over. Propelled by the victory in Dallas, OU went on to defend its national title.

Collins sprints in untouched
Few defensive performances rival what Oklahoma did to Texas in 1985. Despite losing All-American nose guard Tony Casillas on the third play of the game due to a knee injury, the Sooners completely obliterated the Texas offense. The Longhorns were held to four first downs and 70 total yards of offense – including negative 24 in the second half. The only time Texas got the ball deep in OU territory came on a Lydell Carr fumble, which the Horns returned seven yards for a touchdown.

Yet, even with the Sooners defense dominating, the score was 7-7 in the fourth quarter. The Sooners were in danger of tying Texas for the second straight year. Then in a flash, they weren’t. Troy Aikman flipped the ball to halfback Patrick Collins running left. Collins cut the corner, turned upfield and raced 40 yards into the end zone virtually untouched. The Sooners won 14-7, catapulting them to their sixth national championship.

Allen salvages his career, OU's season
By any reasonable measure, John Blake’s first season in Norman was an unmitigated disaster. The Sooners opened the 1996 season with losses to TCU, San Diego State, Tulsa and Kansas by an average margin of 17 points, and would finish the year with a record of 3-8. The only redeeming element of the season came in the Cotton Bowl. Thanks to the will of written-off running back James Allen.

Allen previously was OU’s most ballyhooed running back recruit since Marcus Dupree. But after he was stopped at the goal line of the 1994 loss to the Longhorns, Allen’s career began to tailspin. By 1996, he had lost his job to freshman DeMond Parker. But against Texas, Blake rode his senior, who rallied the Sooners from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to send the game to overtime. In overtime, after Texas settled for a field goal, Allen ran like a man possessed. And after rushing OU to 2, he dove across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown, handing the Sooners a dramatic 30-27 win.

Dupree goes the distance
Ignorance sometimes is bliss. OU fans had no idea their love affair with once-in-a-lifetime running back Marcus Dupree would soon come to an end. In 1982, Sooner Nation believed it was watching the first of many touchdowns Dupree would score against the Longhorns. OU was stuck in its only losing streak against Texas in two decades with Barry Switzer as coach.

But early in the first quarter, Dupree entered the game and carried for seven yards. Then he took the ball from quarterback Kelly Phelps, faked a reverse handoff to Steve Sewell, slipped through a tackle, cut left and dashed down the right hash 63 yards for a touchdown. Dupree finished with 96 yards on just nine carries, and the Sooners racked up 384 yards on the ground on their way to the 28-22 win.

Dupree, however, would never score against Texas again. He suffered a concussion against the Longhorns the following season, as Texas rolled 28-16. Dupree split town the following day, never to return to the team.
The view from here (July) to there (October) is supposed to allow for perspective.

Yeah, right.

Since the SEC’s belt-loosening growth has stripped Oklahoma and Texas of two Big 12 opponents, especially former Big 12 South rival Texas A&M, perspective has gone right out the window. The Red River Rivalry just might be the only rivalry game in town.

Sooners Celebration
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMIOklahoma has the upper hand in the rivalry after 2011's win, but it's only three months until kickoff.
Texas, always the more ho-hum about its in-state rivals, now no longer has the distraction of Texas A&M. The Longhorns sole focus for seasons won or lost is now Oklahoma. It’s a focused ire.

Oklahoma’s hatred has always been more myopic. Even in the days of Nebraska, Texas still boiled more blood. Even with Oklahoma State finally hitting puberty, Texas still sits atop the hit list.

So even though it might be way too hot for face paint in July, a mask of crimson and cream or burnt orange and white is not going to turn heads this time of year, but rather, elicit knowing nods.

South of the Red River they will be in agreement that all those Bob Stoops loving, Toby Keith toboggan hat wearing, land-grabbing, Pac-12 rejects need nothing more than, in the words of Keith, to put a boot in their … And, since it’s Texas, that boot will undoubtedly be a Justin Roper.

North of that trickle of water, they are all in agreement that every Mack Brown apologist with a pained Matthew McConaughey frat daddy drawl and sense of entitlement that was more self-bestowed due to size and money rather than wins and titles needs nothing more than to see yet another sea of downward turned Hook’ems in the Cotton Bowl.

Yeah, perspective is now long gone. It probably won’t ever be regained either. Oklahoma and Texas are begrudgingly wed for better or worse. Because the bond of hatred has become stronger it has now become more visible year round.

So it is not only OK to obsess of the Red River Rivalry in July, it’s welcomed. It’s an affirmation that not only is football just a few more triple-digit weeks away, but that Oklahoma is still there for Texas and Texas for Oklahoma. And that history, which has been washed away by the confluence of new alignments among college football bloodlines, still remains intact in the Red River Rivalry.

And it is history that gives us substance and depth. Most importantly, it gives us something to talk about in July. And that’s what we’re doing. Consider it a gift from HornsNation and SoonerNation. Some summer reading or something to pass the time away this week at the lake or on vacation.

Video: Red River Rivalry

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
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HornsNation’s Carter Strickland and SoonerNation's Jake Trotter look ahead to Saturday’s big game between Oklahoma and Texas.

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