If you were asked to put together a scrapbook of the 50 most memorable Oklahoma football games, I would be willing to bet that a good number would be games against Texas.
This weekend marks the 116th renewal of the annual Oklahoma trek across the Red River into enemy territory to square off against their longtime rivals. There are a couple of schools that consider themselves rivals of the Sooners, but any dyed in the wool Oklahoma fan will tell you that OU has only one real rival, and that rival happens to reside in Austin, Texas.
Close to 90 of the games in the Red River rivalry have been contested at the Cotton Bowl on the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas and during the fair, traditionally held during the first two weeks of October.
Oklahoma and Texas have played a number of games in which both teams were highly ranked, which is one of the things that has made this rivalry so special over the years. This year is the 70th anniversary of one such game.
Oklahoma Sooners Football
In 1950, Oklahoma and Texas met in the third game of the season for both teams. Both teams came into the contest with a 2-0 record. The Sooners were ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Poll; the Longhorns were right behind in the rankings, at No. 4. Unlike the games between these two longtime rivals in recent seasons, the 1950 game was a defensive battle.
Late in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma — featuring a backfield that consisted of senior Claude Arnold at quarterback and All-American Leon Heath and future Heisman Trophy winner Billy Vessels as running backs — led 7-6.
Texas defensive back Bobby Dillion intercepted a pass by OU’s Arnold and returned it 50 yards for what appeared might be the game-winning score. A few minutes later, however, and with time running down, a low punt snap was recovered by Oklahoma deep in Texas territory, setting up the Sooners at the Longhorn 11-yard line.
Moments later, Vessels took a handoff from Arnold and skirted around right end for a game-tying touchdown. Texas native Jim Weatherall, one of five Sooners to receive All-American honors that season, added the extra point, giving Oklahoma a come-from-behind 14-13 victory and the Sooners third consecutive win over Texas.
The win over Texas in 1950 proved to be even more important later that season as the Sooners ended the regular season 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country by both AP (writer’s poll) and the United Press (coaches poll). At that time, the national championship was awarded at the end of the regular season, and Oklahoma, being top ranked in the two major polls, won the first of its seven national championship.
Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners played No. 7 Kentucky in the Sugar Bowl that season. The Wildcats, coached by Paul “Bear” Bryant, fell behind 13-0 n the first half and were never able to make up the deficit, losing 13-7. The loss not only ruined Oklahoma’s undefeated season, but also snapped a 31-game winning streak.