LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Red River Rivalry has held more national-title implications.
Bedlam is more prestigious.
But for the last decade, Oklahoma's series against Texas Tech — which visits Norman on Saturday — has been its most competitive conference series.
Since 2004, the Sooners and Red Raiders have alternated wins each year, with Texas Tech victories in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
All of those OU losses, except for 2011, came in Lubbock.
The last time Texas Tech visited Norman, the Red Raiders snapped Oklahoma's 39-game home winning streak with a 41-38 triumph that wasn't nearly that close.
“We're excited to play a good team,” Sooners center Gabe Ikard said. “They came to Norman two years ago and knocked us off so we obviously respect them and their team and their players. We're going to have to have a great week of preparation and get ready for a battle on Saturday.”
In the Bob Stoops era, only Texas has beaten the Sooners more than Texas Tech and only then because of the Longhorns' win earlier this month. If Tech wins Saturday, both will have beaten OU six times since Stoops took over in 1999.
“There's common threads any time you lose a game, whether it's (Texas) Tech or anybody else,” Stoops said last year before playing the Red Raiders. “There are turnover issues, injury issues, execution issues. … There isn't anything spiritual or spooky about it, OK? It's just playing ball.”
The Sooners have turned the ball over five times over the last two weeks, have lost two of their best defenders for the season over the past three weeks and have been inconsistent offensively for much of the season.
That Red Raiders team that came through Norman two years ago was different from the one that comes in Saturday.
Under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech is undefeated and No. 10 in the country. The Red Raiders haven't been in the top 10 since the 2008 team rose to No. 2 under Mike Leach before being blown out by No. 5 Oklahoma 65-21.
What's made this Texas Tech team even more potent than in 2011 isn't its offense — which continues to put up big numbers like it did when Kingsbury was quarterbacking Tech from 1999-2002. The Red Raiders' defense, especially against the run, has been stellar.
Texas Tech is giving up just 123.1 rushing yards per game, third in the Big 12 and No. 24 nationally.
The Sooners, though, have the second-best rushing offense in the Big 12 at 227.9 yards per game and West Virginia, in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, had some success running the ball against the Red Raiders on Saturday.
TCU also was able to run the ball effectively against Tech, rushing for more than 200 yards.
This Sooners team is also different.
Two years ago, OU was coming off three consecutive blowout wins, the last two coming over Texas and Kansas.
Now, the Sooners come in coming off a loss to Texas and a shaky win against a Kansas team that hasn't won a conference game since 2010.