NORMAN — Saturday’s edition of the Red River Rivalry could be among the most contentious in the 109-year history between the two teams. Although the preseason hype leading into what was supposed to be a matchup between two top 5 teams led by two Heisman candidate quarterbacks has lessened by a pair of Oklahoma losses and an injured Sam Bradford shoulder, last season’s fallout will still be fresh in fans’ minds. Oklahoma and Texas tied for the Big 12 South title in 2008, both finishing 7-1 in conference. But so did Texas Tech. Texas beat Oklahoma 45-35 in 2008’s Red River Rivalry game, but since the Red Raiders made it a three-way tie, the head-to-head result was irrelevant (to computers, anyway). The three-way tiebreaker was the computerized BCS rankings, where, in the final week of the regular season, the Sooners leapfrogged the Longhorns into the Big 12 title game, and with a win, the national title game. "It’s a huge game,” said coach Bob Stoops. "This is our 11th season, but in the 10 we’ve already completed, it’s been one of us in the Big 12 Championship game.” Although Stoops downplayed the role of last year’s results in this year’s game, the recent off-the-field history between the two teams has ratcheted up the on-field rivalry. Here’s a look at what has happened off the field over the past year to fuel the Red River Rivalry fire.
The asterisk: April 2009Official records show Oklahoma won the 2008 Big 12 Championship after beating Missouri 62-21. Someone on Texas’ staff must have missed the memo. The year 2008 was at the end of a list of the Longhorns’ Big 12 titles on a wall of the team’s practice facility. Next to an asterisk, of course. A day after reporters wrote about the claimed title in April, it came down. Texas coach Mack Brown said he had no knowledge of the new wall decoration and didn’t approve of it.
The recruit: December 2008Highly recruited defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland (right) was the subject of a New York Times story detailing his recruitment. McFarland said he attended a party hosted by Texas at last season’s Red River Rivalry game that allegedly included free alcohol, drugs and women taking off their clothes. When McFarland committed to Oklahoma on Christmas Day, the story ran. A firestorm followed, alleging the story was one-sided and McFarland had fabricated details of the party. McFarland was also critical of Texas’ strength training program in the story. Now a freshman at Oklahoma, McFarland has appeared in three games, notching three tackles for the Sooners.
The flyovers: Nov./Dec. 2008Texas fans took to the skies above two of Oklahoma’s games to express their anger at being left out of the Big 12 Championship game and, as a result, the national championship game. When ESPN’s "College Gameday” traveled to Stillwater for last season’s Bedlam game, a group of fans paid for a plane to fly over the broadcast. Behind it was a banner that read "45-35, settled on a neutral field,” reminding all who saw it of the score of last season’s Red River Rivalry game in Dallas. After the BCS rankings officially sent the Sooners to Kansas City to play Missouri (a team Texas had already beaten by nearly four touchdowns) for the Big 12 title, Texas fans provided an encore. A couple hours before kickoff, another plane circled Arrowhead Stadium dragging a banner that read "Enjoy the BeatByTexas.com Bowl.”