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October 12, 2013

Red River Rivalry changes over the years

DALLAS — Spencer Tillman remembers it vividly. Even though it was 19 years ago, the former Oklahoma tailback can, to this day, feel and taste the pain of the outcome of the Red River Rivalry with Texas.

In the 107 meetings between Oklahoma and Texas, the 1984 encounter was only the fourth time the two teams left the field without a winner, as the top-ranked Longhorns tied the No. 2 Sooners 15-15.

“It’s really odd,” Tillman said. “I never remember moments from the wins. I remember the sting of the tie in this case. It wasn’t a loss, but it felt like one. We were robbed with Keith Stanberry’s interception that was clear he had both feet inbounds. In the rain in the Cotton Bowl. That’s one that jumps out in my memory and the nasty taste of that 15-15 tie as we left the Cotton Bowl.”

Tillman is one of the few Sooners who can lay claim to never losing to the Longhorns. But that one tie is something that almost overshadows the wins.

That is how much beating Texas has meant to the Oklahoma program. While rivalries with Nebraska were more business, the OU-Texas games were personal.

“We were in separate conferences back then, so the game was primarily about bragging rights,” said former OU quarterback Charles Thompson. “We knew each year there were a lot of guys in the locker room with me who were from Texas. (Barry) Switzer always stressed the importance of being able to go down to Texas and win the recruiting battles. It was always for bragging rights. Had nothing to do with conference titles. Had nothing to do with really nothing else than who is the big dog down in Texas. Oklahoma, we kind of felt like Dallas was our home. It was just about establishing dominance in the state.”

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