When the Oklahoma Sooners travel south of the border to rematch archrival Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game on December 1st, it’ll be the first in-season Red River Rematch in over a century.
In fact, this extremely rare occurrence has only happened twice before — in 1901 and 1903. Unfortunately for OU, the outcomes of those pair of rematches did not result in victory. In 1901, the Sooners and the Longhorns played a home-and-home series to open and conclude the season. UT won the first meeting in Austin, 12-6, and the rematch in Norman, 11-0. In 1903, the only other time these two historic programs have clashed twice in the same season, Oklahoma tied with Texas in Austin, 6-6, before falling short in Norman, 11-5. With the forward pass available in the upcoming rematch, the Sooners should fare much better.
Outside of the Red River Rivalry, the program actually has a decent amount of experience with in-season rematches. In 1896, Oklahoma went 2-0 against Norman High School. Yes, old-timey college football was just a basket of strangeness all around. OU then went 2-0 against Kingfisher in 1902 and 2-0 against Central State (now UCO) during the 1905 and 1906 seasons.
An in-season rematch involving the Sooners didn’t happen again for 72 years, when Oklahoma met up with a familiar foe in the Orange Bowl. A couple months prior to the New Year, Barry Switzer, Billy Sims and company traveled to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but lost in a 17-14, fumble-crazy classic and essentially fell out of national title contention. Fortunately for OU, a chance at redemption presented itself at the Orange Bowl Miami. In round 2 of the epic rivalry, Oklahoma finally prevailed, 31-24.
With the advent of the Big 12 Championship in 1996 (and again in 2017), in-season rematches league-wide became a more common occurrence. Oklahoma has since found itself part of four such instances, including the guaranteed title game rematch that was started last season. In those four instances, the Sooners won both meetings against Kansas State in 2000, Colorado in ‘02, Missouri in ’07 and TCU in ‘17.
TCU’s Gary Patterson sure as hell didn’t want to see Oklahoma twice last season, but alas, his team did, and it was not pretty for his Horned Frogs.
“Texas is going to get an opportunity again this next Saturday. I can just tell you guys right now: I don’t want to. Last year I had to play them twice last year with Baker. I would not want to play them twice with Kyler. Telling you right now. It’s recess. And it’s full blast.”
— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) November 25, 2018
A somewhat interesting note about each of the Big 12 title game rematches is that outside of the K-State rematch, Oklahoma saw a combined +23 difference in margin of victory from the first to the second meetings against the Buffaloes, Tigers and Horned Frogs. This comes down to coaching adjustments more than anything, as both sides come into the game fully aware of how the opposition wants to attack and defend their team. Whichever coaching staff makes the better adjustments this Saturday will likely decide who claims the conference crown.
The animosity between OU and Texas will be close to peak levels come Saturday. The hatred is always present, but with so much on the line, and this being the first rematch in over a century, no ounce of love will be lost this week. Take for example senior linebacker Curtis ‘Buzzy’ Bolton’s comments on the Breckyn Hager quotes from last week.
OU LB Curtis Bolton, responding to Texas DE Breckyn Hager saying last week that OU has no defense: “Blows my mind. We hung 50 (45) on them, too. If anyone on their defense has anything to say, they can have fun playing Kyler next week.” pic.twitter.com/s6ZTGES65N
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 24, 2018
Can you feel it? This rematch is about to be epic.
Now a lot has changed for the Sooners since that meeting with the Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl. First of all, Mike Stoops is out (though it could be argued without much effort that the defense is no better than before). Also, Kyler Murray is more experienced, Kennedy Brooks has emerged as a legitimate force, and as a unit, the offensive line is playing its best ball of the season. Though I’ve seen the Crimson & Cream do it before, I still believe defeating the same team twice in one season is one of the most difficult feats to accomplish in college football. That’s part of the challenge in front of Texas as it prepares to see Oklahoma, who’s eager for this second chance and a shot at a CFP berth.
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