Red River Showdown history

Named for the river that divides the two states

The University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners have played in Dallas every year since 1929 ... and in the Cotton Bowl since it opened in 1932.

The State Fair mash-up of Texas-OU (or OU-Texas, depending on your personal preference) turns half of the Cotton Bowl into a sea of burnt orange and the other half into an ocean of crimson for the annual Red River Showdown.

"Because of its prominent history and unique atmosphere," O.U.'s athletic director recently told the ESPN television network, "the setting of the Red River Showdown truly represents one of the most special games in all of college football."

"Special" is an understatement.

These fans are fierce. The Longhorns and Sooners take this game very, very seriously.

The annual clash, at a half-way point between the two schools' campuses, trumps just about any other college football rivalry in excitement, entertainment ... and economic impact.

In his book, Runnin' with the Big Dogs: The Long, Twisted History of the Texas-OU Rivalry, author Mike Shropshire surmises, "The excitement is due in large part to the raw and dynamic history of the two states involved, from the Indian wars to the oil boom. Before statehood Oklahoma was known as Indian Territory, so this Red River Shootout is Cowboys and Indians all over again."

Even the not-usually-so-college-football-gushy types at the San Francisco Examiner have gone on about the smell of State Fair corny dogs, the Texas-sized Texas Star Ferris wheel, and the Midway's beer stands which "provide the perfect place for winners to celebrate and losers to drown their sorrows."

And, odds are, half of the game's fans will be doing exactly that.

Red River Showdown history