Growing up in the Dallas metroplex, Oklahoma center Ben Habern knew the annual showdown in the Cotton Bowl was THE game but an in-state rivalry with Oklahoma State also was a big game.
Four years after committing to the Sooners, the rivalry barometer has different readings these days.
Beating the Longhorns in Dallas will always will be a priority. But the Big 12 standings reveal there is no debate that the past two years' Bedlam games are bigger than the Red River Rivalry.
“They've always been a huge rival,” Habern said. “Any in-state rival, where both teams are competing for the Big 12 championship, is always pretty big.”
That's where the landscape has changed.
Most seasons, the team that won the Red River Rivalry had a leg up winning the South, thus having a leg up on winning the conference title.
Texas is wallowing in unchartered lows during the Mack Brown era, while the Cowboys have risen to new heights under Mike Gundy.
“They've definitely picked it up to where they're one of the powerhouses in college football,” Habern said. “It's a fun opportunity. It's going to be a fun game to play.”
The Sooners have won the past eight meetings. But Bedlam games in Stillwater during the Bob Stoops era almost always have produced entertaining, fourth-quarter drama.
That's been the case in the past six Bedlam games in Boone Pickens Stadium, dating back to days when it was known as Lewis Field.
“This game is huge for so many different reasons, one the tradition and history of the rivalry, two the stage we're on, the implications of the outcome of the game,” said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables.