When the Oklahoma Sooners finally hit the gridiron in the Southeastern Conference, there will be some familiar foes, which the Sooners used to play regularly—Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas A&M.
OU and the Razorbacks met regularly on the gridiron early in the 20th century. In those early days, Oklahoma was known as the Rough Riders until 1908, when Sooners became the nickname. Arkansas used to be known as the Cardinals until 1909 when it changed its nickname to Razorbacks. Both programs met six times as independents and five times as members of the Southwest Conference (1915-19). The Sooners jumped ship to the Missouri Valley Conference in 1920, and they met the Razorbacks again in 1926. Both teams from connecting states didn’t meet again for 51 years when the Orange Bowl paired them in its classic bowl game.
OU held a 10-1-1 edge in the early days when the matchups were in the regular season. Arkansas embarrassed the Sooners, 31-6, in the Orange Bowl contest. For nine years, Oklahoma skipper Barry Switzer, an Arkansas alum, had to endure some humility from that contest. That’s when the Orange Bowl committee invited OU and Arkansas for another meeting after the 1986 season.
At the first practice before the 1987 Orange Bowl, Switzer asked his players for a favor.
“In 21 years of coaching, I’ve never asked any players to win a game for me, but I’m going to ask you now to play our hearts out in this game and win it for me as well as yourselves.”
The Sooners hammered the Hogs, 42-8.
The two teams met once more after the 2001 season in the 2002 Cotton Bowl. OU won 10-3.
You would think neighbors in connecting states, institutions separated by about 250 miles, could get together more often in the regular season. It’s going to happen again soon.
Oklahoma and Texas A&M would occasionally meet during the regular season between 1903 and 1994. When the Big Eight and SWC Conferences merged in 1996, the two schools met another 16 times as south division mates in the Big 12 Conference.
The Sooners hold a 19-12 series edge over the Aggies, but A&M won the last meeting, a 41-13 victory in the 2013 Cotton Bowl after the Cadets moved to the SEC.
OU and Missouri met 96 times as rivals dating back to 1902. Both teams met on the gridiron 10 times before the Sooners joined the Tigers in the Missouri Valley Conference in 1920. Both remained conference rivals for 92 years from the MVC to the Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight, and Big 12. They didn’t meet every year when the Big 12 separated Oklahoma to its south division and the Tigers to the north division.
OU and Mizzou met twice (2007 and 2008) in the Big 12 Championship Game as division champs, but the Sooners won the title both times. Missouri and Texas A&M fled to the SEC in 2012, and the Tigers rivalry with Oklahoma ended then.
OU holds a 67-24-5 series edge over the Tigers.