The Red River Rivalry: Top 20 Games (Part Four)

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Fans cheer during the opening kickoff of the annual Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas in the Cotton Bowl on October 8, 2011. (Steve Hamm/Special Contributor). 10112012xSPORTS
File photo. The Red River Rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma is one of the legendary matchups in college football. Played each year at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas, TX. (Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As we approach 72 hours to kickoff of this years Red River Rivalry, the excited and anticipation is mounting. However, before that happens we still have the top five to unveil. These five games were not only magnificent performances but seasons that helped shape the history of these illustrious programs. Let’s get right into it with number five.

#5 It’s Superman!

Oklahoma came in as the winner of 17 consecutive games. However, the defense came in with many question marks after giving up 37 points and 446 total yards a week earlier against Kansas State. On the reverse side, Texas came into the game as the fifth ranked team in the country. Texas was led by a much improved defense and Chris Simms as the signal caller in Austin.

This game would live up to the hype, but both defenses would dominate the game. The first two quarters were replete with missed opportunities for both teams as Tim Duncan missed two field goals for Oklahoma and Texas had a field goal blocked by Andre Woolfolk. The Sooners would finally break through with a two-yard touchdown run to lead 7-0 with six minutes to go before half. The Longhorn mounted a late half surge and got a Dusty Mangum 27-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3 at halftime.

The third quarter remained scoreless as both defenses continued their outstanding play. However, Simms led the Longhorns deep into Sooner territory. The rally fell short as Antonio Perkins intercepted Simms in the end zone to end the threat. With the Sooners in possession, they would drive deep into Texas territory and faced with a fourth down. Trusting his defense, Bob Stoops opted for a punt that would pin the Longhorns deep in its own territory. This would set the stage for one of the most iconic plays in Oklahoma history. Roy Williams leaped over a block and hit Simms as he threw the ball. The ball fluttered in the air which was intercepted by Teddy Lehman who returned it from a touchdown.

#4 The Shipley and McCoy show

This was one of the most anticipated games in the series in quite some time. Oklahoma came into the game as the top ranked team in the country. Whereas, Texas was ranked number five in the nation. This game in 2008 was the first time that both teams had come in ranked in the top five since 2004.

The Sooners had one of the best offenses in the history of the program in 2008 behind Sam Bradford. It didn’t take Bradford long as Oklahoma marched down on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. Oklahoma seemed to be taking command in the second quarter holding to a 14-3 lead. However, the momentum changed quickly as Jordan Shipley returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. To conclude the first half, the juggernauts traded blows with Oklahoma coming right back to score a touchdown and Texas matching it. Hunter Lawrence made a field goal for the Longhorns to make it a 21-10 Sooner lead heading into the break.

Much like the first half, both teams would come out of the break firing back at one another. Also, just like the first half Oklahoma scored on its opening possession to take a 28-20 lead. But, as they had previously Texas came back again to cut it to one on a Colt McCoy to Shipley touchdown strike to cut the lead to one. After relinquishing the lead for the first time, Oklahoma fired back with Bradford’s fifth touchdown on the day to reclaim the lead 35-30. That would be the final lead of the game for the Sooners as Texas would dominate the rest of the action. The Longhorns scored the finals 15 points and shut down the Sooners to win 45-25.

This game would be a major source of discussion throughout the remainder of the season. Later, Texas would lose to in the final moments to Texas Tech. Oklahoma would win the remainder of their games. And, Texas Tech would also have just the one loss to the Sooners. Due to a tiebreaker rule where the highest ranked team in the BCS standings Oklahoma played in the Big 12 title game and Texas would be left out even though they won the head to head battle.

#3 Red River Massacre

The definition of a good game can sometimes be a matter of interpretation. Many times, the best games are when you dominate your opponent for the entire contest. That is exactly what happened in 2003 as Oklahoma beat Texas 65-13. The Sooners came into the game as a clear number one team in the country while Texas was trying to replace Simms and not quite as strong as the previous years.

This game was Jason White’s coming out party in 2003. He was flawless against Texas as he threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns. Mark Clayton was the biggest benefactor of this as he hauled in eight passes for 190 yards and a score of his own.

Defensively, the Sooners also forced six Longhorn turnovers on the day. This set the table for a short field for Oklahoma to play with a large part of the day. Jonathan Jackson forced a turnover of Vince Young for the only defensive score of the day for the Sooners.

The Longhorns had light at the end of the tunnel. The game ushered in a superstar for Texas with the play of Young. While he threw two interceptions, the talent and electricity was hard to miss as he amounted 127 yards on the ground with a score.

#2 Prelude to a Longhorn Championship

Coming into the game in 2005, Oklahoma had won five straight games in the series. However, Texas came into this years game as the much stronger team. Young came into his own as a Heisman caliber quarterback and was armed with plenty of talent around him. Oklahoma struggled early dealing with the loss of Jason White, Mark Clayton and an ineffective Adrian Peterson who was hobbled.

The Sooners played tough early as Texas led just 7-6 through the later part of the first quarter. But, Jamaal Charles broke off an 80 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-6. With the first half running low, Young connected with Billy Pittman for a 64-yard touchdown strike to take a commanding 24-6 lead to halftime.

The Longhorn defense was stifling all afternoon. They held the Sooners to just 171 yards of total offense and held them out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. That Sooner touchdown seemed to anger the Longhorn defense as Rodrique Wright returned a Rhett Bomar fumble 67 yards for a touchdown as the Longhorns won the game 45-12.

This would be a special season for Texas as they would complete an undefeated regular season and a date with Southern Cal in the national championship game. In what many consider to be one of the greatest games in national championship history, Texas defeated USC 41-38 to win the title.

#1 The Sooners Are Back!

Oklahoma had come off a promising season in 1999. The Sooners reached a bowl game for the first time since 1994 under first year coach Bob Stoops. However, Stoops had set his sights much higher than the 7-5 season of a year ago. The Sooners came into this game undefeated and ranked number 10 in the country but relatively untested. On the other side, Texas had tasted defeat once. They werestruggling with identity as they shuffled between Major Applewhite and Chris Simms at Quarterback. However, it wouldn’t matter as Oklahoma would announce they were back in a huge way through a 63-14 trouncing of the Longhorns.

The Sooners scored early and often building a 42-0 lead in the first half. Oklahoma had moved to more of a spread offense under Stoops and quarterback Josh Heupel. But, it would be a little running back by the name of Quentin Griffin that stole the show. Griffin scored six touchdowns on the ground which was a Cotton Bowl record.

The Sooners suffocated Texas defensively only allowing seven yards rushing for the game. This made the Longhorns one dimensional. It paved the way for two Sooner interceptions. Rocky Calmus took one of those interceptions back for a score in the first half.

Much like in the previous game, this spearheaded a special season for the Sooners. Oklahoma completed a perfect regular season to face Florida State in the Orange Bowl. A dominant defensive performance was the key again as Oklahoma won the game 13-2 en route to a National Championship.

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