Love to hate: The ammunition behind the Red River Showdown
Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Southerners sure love their football, so it should come as no surprise that fans in Oklahoma and Texas treat their annual grudge match like a religious experience.

The two schools first clashed in 1900 - back then, Texas was referred to simply as the "Varsity." Since 1932, the Sooners and Longhorns have been settling their differences at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the third weekend of the State Fair of Texas.

A variety of nicknames accompany the Oklahoma-Texas game: there's the Red River Rivalry, the Red River Shootout, the Red River Showdown, and even the Red River Classic.

Distance between schools: 369 miles
Longest win-streak: Oklahoma - 6 (1952-57); Texas - 8 (1940-47, 1958-65)
Series record: Texas leads 61-46-5

Why they hate each other

The conflict between Oklahomans and Texans began a century ago, but it had nothing to do with football. In 1908, Oklahoma governor Charles Haskell drew the ire of Texans at the Democratic National Convention when he didn't name Judge M.M. Brooks - a popular figure in the Lone Star State - to his platform committee. Haskell's decision ignited a feud between the two states, and it grew during the Red River Bridge War in 1931.

The football game was always a source of pride for each university but the rivalry intensified during Barry Switzer's reign as head coach at Oklahoma. In 1976, he was accused of spying on Texas' practices before their game, and in 1984, he donned a "BEAT TEXAS" cap while dueling the Longhorns in the rain. Switzer went 9-5-2 against Texas and often flaunted his disdain for his archenemy.

Historically, Texas and Oklahoma have both been college football powerhouses, meaning their paths to national glory have required one to go through the other.

In all but five encounters since 1945, at least one of the two schools has entered the Red River Showdown ranked, so the stakes are almost always enormous when they meet.

At the end of the day, Oklahoma and Texas both want to be the alpha state of the south, but only one can - they use football to establish dominance.


"That is the single greatest game ever played by an Oklahoma defender. I have never seen anything like it, nor will I ever see anything like it again." - Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson after linebacker Jerry Tubbs' 27-tackle, three-interception game versus Texas in 1955 (Tulsa World)

"It's not like your home crowd or your away crowd where it's loud for you and quiet for the opponent or whatever. In this game, somebody is screaming every play." - Texas coach Mack Brown on the Red River Rivalry atmosphere (Sports Illustrated)

"Some coaches would rather listen to guitar pickers than work hard." - Switzer said, responding to allegations that Oklahoma had spied on opponents' practices (SB Nation)


Texas and Oklahoma entered their 1984 bout ranked first and third, respectively, in the AP Poll, adding even more buzz to the Shootout. The two squads played to a 15-15 tie, as the Longhorns tied the contest on a field goal in the dying seconds after officials controversially ruled a Texas pass was incomplete instead of intercepted by the Sooners.

Oklahoma's signature moment in the modern portion of the series came in 2001, courtesy of star safety Roy Williams. With the Sooners leading late, Williams leaped over Texas' offensive line and deflected a Chris Simms pass into the hands of linebacker Teddy Lehman. Lehman stepped into the end zone for an insurance touchdown, putting the game on ice.

Brian Robison's hit on Rhett Bomar in the 100th meeting between the rival schools led to a Texas defensive touchdown and instantly became one of the biggest hits in the history of the series. The Longhorns won the 2005 contest and took home the national title later that season.

Love to hate: The ammunition behind the Red River Showdown
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