Red River...Really? A Look At 7 Odd Meetings Between Oklahoma And Texas

No one asked for it, but here it is: the seven weirdest games in the history of Oklahoma-Texas.

Thursday, October 6th 2022, 6:19 pm

By: Nate Kotisso


College football is one of a kind. 

If you’ve watched a Big Ten football game in recent years, it is possible you have seen an ad that touts Rutgers University as the “Birthplace of College Football.” It reads like a joke because when is the last time most of us have pondered Rutgers football? 2006? Maybe now, for the first time ever?

Incredibly, it’s true. Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 bouncing a soccer ball around a field in New Jersey nearly 153 full years ago.

When you have a game that is as old as this one – and an OU-Texas rivalry that is also more a century old – there are going to be several games that leave you scratching your head.

No one asked for it, but here it is: the seven weirdest games in the history of Oklahoma-Texas.

1903: Horsin’ Around

In today’s college football, we can sometimes laugh (or worse) at referees who decide to call or not decide to call pass interference penalties – on offense or defense – when it seems like PI is happening all of the time.

But when it came to college football rules in the 1900s, it was essentially the wild west.

The-then Oklahoma Rough Riders (R.I.P. DMX) appeared to be victims of a weird football rule. At the time, a punt that bounces into the end zone and off the playing field was considered a live ball and could be recovered for a touchback or a touchdown, depending on which team recovered.

Texas punter William Doniphan “Mogul” Robinson boomed a punt that went “past the goal line and off the playing field,” according to The Daily Oklahoman. By rule, the ball was very much up for grabs.

The ball rolled and rolled to an awkward place. It rested under a horse that was attached to a buggy. Both Robinson and OU’s Byron McCreary frantically went after the ball.

McCreary, perhaps, tried a more careful approach to retrieving the ball. He tried to go around the horse, hoping he’d find the ball and maintain the integrity of his uniform. Robinson was a bit more direct, lunging himself between the horse’s feet. Robinson was rewarded with the ball and a touchdown.

Texas would later win this game 11-5. Nearly one month before this game, OU and Texas played to a 6-6 tie. 1903 and 2018 are the only seasons when Oklahoma and Texas faced off twice in one year (2018 game at the Cotton Bowl and the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas.)

1905: The Perfect Game 

It was time for a change. Fred Ewing was out. Bennie Owen was in.

When Owen became OU’s head football coach, the program had no wins, six losses and the one tie against the University of Texas. Oklahoma was in trouble of possibly dropping another game to UT with the score locked in a 0-0 tie with a minute to play.

However, Oklahoma’s Bob Severin tackled Texas ball carrier Don Robinson in the end zone for a safety. Final score: Oklahoma 2, Texas 0.

OU “Boomer” fans reportedly stormed the field, similar to what TCU fans did after their football team beat the Sooners last week in Fort Worth.

Owen’s successful run as football coach would later coincide with him simultaneously coaching the OU men’s basketball and baseball teams.

As one does.

1919: Rivalry Renewed

OU and Texas decided to not play each other in football in 1918. It did not have to do with any love being lost between the programs. In fact, both were members of the Southwest Conference at the time (R.I.P. SWC) and finished undefeated seasons with separately shortened schedules.

There were other things that seemed a tad more important. The first World War was nearing an end, but cities and states were shutting down in droves due to a highly contagious flu pandemic.

Oklahoma and Texas decided to put a pin in their annual game and pick it back up for the 1919 season, which also happened to be OU’s last in the Southwest Conference.

When both teams renewed their rivalry, they learned the best player on the field was not a quarterback, wide receiver or punter. He was a man nicknamed “Tarzan.”

“Tarzan” was OU defensive lineman Howard Marsh. He blocked not one, not two, but three consecutive Texas punts. He also recorded a safety for good measure. Final score: Oklahoma 12, Texas 7.

The 1919 OU-Texas game was likely one of the first indicators of just how good a player he could be. Three years later, the Madill High School alumnus became a team captain and the lone all-Missouri Valley Conference performer on the team.

1957: Gotta Hear Both Sides

Foundational pieces are a must-have for any program that yearns to be a national championship contender but, especially so, if you’re a new head coach trying to make a program your own.

Fortunately, for Bud Wilkinson in his first season as a first-time college head coach in 1947, he had Hollis native Darrell Royal on the team. At the time, Royal was in year two of a stellar career as a defensive back and part-time quarterback for the Sooners. His 18 career interceptions remain the top mark in OU football history.

Nine years later, Royal was hired to be the next head football coach at, of all places, the University of Texas at Austin.

During the following October, mentor and mentee met on the same field at the Cotton Bowl. Wilkinson and the No. 1-ranked Sooners got the better of Royal’s Longhorns 21-7, but the game was already considered a step in the right direction for UT.

Texas, who would later put Royal's name on its football stadium, lost the previous two matchups with OU by a combined 65-0.

1984: Pick Me

The 1984 meeting in Dallas had all the makings for a potential classic. Texas was ranked No. 1 in the country. Oklahoma was not far behind at No. 3. The only thing that could have stood in either team’s way of victory: a sloppy, sloshy field at the Cotton Bowl.

In a way, that is exactly what happened.

The Longhorns, down three points and in danger of having their national title hopes dashed, formed a late charge led by quarterback Todd Dodge.

Dodge was able to maneuver and be accurate enough to get the Horns inside the OU 20-yard line with under 20 seconds to play. He launched a pass to the right corner of the end zone.

Wide receiver Bill Boy Bryant (legendary namegod status) got his mitts on the ball. He couldn’t corral it, but someone else did.

Sooner defensive back Keith Stanberry snatched it out of the air and deftly slid on a puddle for a timely, game-saving interception.

However, it was not to be.

Stanberry was ruled down out of bounds. It was an incomplete pass.

Kicker Jeff Ward nailed a field goal as time expired, ensuring a 15-15 tie for the Longhorns.

Maybe you thought the tie helped keep Texas on the steady road to a national championship. Nope!

The Longhorns lost three of their last four regular season games and dropped a 55-17 stinker to Iowa in a bowl game that no longer exists.

College football fever: Catch it!

2018: Rhymes With Kicker

The spot the Sooners are in heading into this weekend looks a lot like the spot they were in four seasons ago.

Oklahoma started the 2018 season with a preseason Associated Press Top 10 ranking. OU had yet to face a ranked opponent, and it employed a defense that had more question marks than good answers.

The OU defense was defens-ing. The Longhorns led by three touchdowns through three quarters, but the Sooners had a not-so-secret weapon named Kyler Murray.

The eventual Heisman Trophy winner was unleashed in the final quarter. He threw a touchdown pass, ran in a touchdown and orchestrated a three-play touchdown drive that tied the game at 45 with under three minutes to go. But the Sooners gave the Texas too much time to make something happen.

The Longhorns got within 40 yards for a chance at the lead. Let’s allow Gus Johnson to take it from here.

A “child”, as Johnson put it, led the Horns to a win. It also led coach Lincoln Riley to terminate defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

If anything, that probably remains the most popular move Riley has ever made. Around here, anyway.

2020: This Is The Game That Never Ends

How many times have you tuned into a game between a fringe-Top 25 ranked Texas and an unranked Oklahoma team and thought to yourself, “Gee, it sure would be swell if the OU-Texas game went four overtimes.”

(Horrible) Wish granted. 

The Sooner defense must have thought Mike Stoops was still calling plays because they played like he was.

Quarterback Spencer Rattler was benched for a spell in favor of Tanner Mordecai.

Gabe Brkic, a mostly perfect kicker, missed what would have been a game-winning field goal in the third overtime.

To make matters worse, OU sealed the win with...(checks notes)...a defensive play? It was Tre Brown's interception in the end zone. 

Thank goodness for college players. They care so much. You don’t even remember why you started watching a game like this, but there you are, willingly destroying your eyeballs.

It appears the Longhorns are favored to beat the Sooners by anywhere between five and seven points this weekend. Saturday will be the first OU-Texas game since 1998 when neither team is ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

Maybe they’ll try for six overtimes this time.


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