The undefeated Longhorns will try to end a five-game losing streak in the Red River Rivalry when the Big 12 foes meet for the 100th time on Saturday in Dallas.
“We owe them one,” Longhorns senior offensive tackle Jonathan Scott said of the Sooners before the season started.
They actually owe them quite a few.
Texas (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) hasn’t beaten Oklahoma (2-2, 1-0) since 1999, when quarterback Major Applewhite rallied the Longhorns from an early 17-0 deficit for a 38-28 victory. It was Sooners coach Bob Stoops’ first season in Norman and his only loss to Texas’ Mack Brown.
In 2000, it was a 63-14 romp over Texas that catapulted a developing Oklahoma program toward a national title. In 2003, it was the Sooners’ 65-13 victory that was Texas quarterback Vince Young’s baptism into the series.
Oklahoma beat Texas 12-0 last year, the first time the Longhorns had been shut out since 1980.
The Sooners’ winning streak has embarrassed the Longhorns and frustrated Brown’s quest for his first conference title as a head coach.
This year may be different, being the first time in six seasons Texas enters as the higher-ranked team.
Oklahoma opened the season with a stunning 17-10 upset loss to visiting TCU, and lost 41-24 at UCLA on Sept. 17 before bouncing back to beat Kansas State 43-21 last Saturday to even its record.
The Sooners are two-touchdown underdogs in a series they’ve dominated of late, but Brown isn’t concerned about the spread.
“I don’t think in a game like this favorites matter,” he said. “History doesn’t matter. The last five years, the last twenty years doesn’t matter. It’s the best team on that Saturday. I think it will be a great game on Saturday. I think you always have to look at this one as an even game because of the emotion, because emotion changes a lot of things that happen.”
Young and the Longhorns have yet to be tripped up in this year’s quest for a national title, rolling to a 4-0 start, including last Saturday’s 51-20 win at Missouri.
The Heisman Trophy candidate ran for 108 yards and a touchdown and threw for two scores as Texas won its 11th straight game overall and 11th in a row on the road.
“We’ve got a chance to be really good and we haven’t played near our best game yet,” Brown said. “We told our guys we can play much better than this and we’ll have to continue to grow as a team, but the fun thing is we’re 4-0 and we don’t think we’ve scratched the surface.”
The Sooners can’t say the same. Despite its easy win over Kansas State, Oklahoma saw sophomore running back Adrian Peterson leave the game with an ankle injury after rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown.
It was Peterson who buried the Longhorns last season, bursting onto the national scene with a 225-yard performance. He’s listed as the starter for this weekend’s showdown, but the star tailback could be at less than 100 percent.
Freshman quarterback Rhett Bomar will try to continue Oklahoma’s recent success in the series in his first Red River game.
“This team, when it comes to the Texas game, we have confidence. We have that swagger,” Bomar said. “A lot of people might count us out just like that, but we’re going to go down there with all the confidence in the world.”
Texas leads the all-time series 55-39-5. This will be the 77th straight year the teams meet at the Cotton Bowl.