NORMAN — Oklahoma's Josh Heupel and Texas' Major Applewhite meet Saturday morning for the fifth time as direct counterparts in the annual Red River Rivalry game.
The two former quarterbacks — who split their two clashes in the Cotton Bowl as players — now serve as their respective school's co-offensive coordinator and play caller.
“We've been through these two programs for a long time,” Heupel said.
In 1999, Applewhite and Texas rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Oklahoma 38-28. The next year, Heupel's Sooners routed the Longhorns 63-14 in a blowout that sparked OU's national-title run.
“You have to go in understanding that it's going to be loud; it's going to be physical; there's going to be ups and downs,” Applewhite said. “By understanding that, accepting that, you're not shocked when it happens and you're able to put it in its own place and compartmentalize it and move through it, fight through it.
“If it's bad adversity or if you're up 14-0, that doesn't mean anything. I remember in '99, we were down 17-0, and we won that game.”
So far, the Applewhite-Heupel coordinator clashes have been much more similar to that 2000 game, with the Sooners winning 58-17 and 63-21 in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
“I think it's all on the line when you play Oklahoma, every year,” Applewhite said. “I don't think these kids or coaches or anybody else feel any differently. It's the Oklahoma game, it's what you come to Texas to play for, same thing on the other side.
“It's extremely important. It's bragging rights. It's what you get to talk about when you're old and retired.”
Although Heupel and Applewhite have followed relatively similar career paths as coaches, their playing careers and relationships with their head coaches stand in stark contrast.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Heupel have never had any public issues with one another. After Stoops signed Heupel out of junior college, they went 7-5, and then 13-0 with a national championship over their two years together as coach and player.