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Texas officially back at top of the Big 12 with Oklahoma

photo: Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

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The pinnacle of the Big 12 schedule is on tap this weekend between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Showdown. Red River will also be a showdown between top 15 teams this year. Each team also has a lot of momentum riding into this game from their recent non-conference and Big 12 wins. The Longhorns held off a pesky West Virginia Mountaineers squad under first-year head coach Neal Brown on the road last weekend. And Oklahoma was able to stave off an early push in Lawrence from the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Sooners are undefeated heading into Red River and the Longhorns have just that one home loss to the top-five ranked LSU Tigers. Before that win over West Virginia on Oct. 5, the Longhorns opened up Big 12 play with what is now looking to be a less impressive win over Oklahoma State.

Last year, the Red River Rivalry during the regular season resulted in a thrilling 48-45 win on a late field goal from then true freshman kicker Cameron Dicker. But there was one point when the Longhorns were beating the Sooners 45-24 before eventual Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray got his offense going in the 4th quarter.

Texas and Oklahoma also met in the Big 12 Championship Game last season, and were by far the two highest ranked teams in the conference by season’s end. Oklahoma was able to at least light up the Alabama Crimson Tide defense in the College Football Playoff Semifinal (even though their defense was torched much worse). The Longhorns capped off their 2018 campaign with a win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

The next highest ranked Big 12 team at the end of last season behind Oklahoma (No. 4) and Texas (No. 9) was West Virginia at No. 20 after an 8-4 2018 campaign. The underlying point here is that this is a big shift towards the Red River schools taking over the top of the Big 12. Granted, the rival Sooners never really left while Texas was down.

Let’s take a look here at the last 10 Big 12 Title winners:

2010: Oklahoma

2011: Oklahoma State, Kansas State (tie)

2012: Oklahoma

2013: Baylor

2014: Baylor, TCU (tie)

2015: Oklahoma

2016: Oklahoma

2017: Oklahoma

2018: Oklahoma

There’s two thoughts that come to mind there. One, Oklahoma won all too many Big 12 Championships and are currently looking for their fifth straight. The second is that those other challengers like TCU, Baylor, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State have mostly fallen off. Baylor and the Iowa State could be the biggest challengers to the Longhorns and Sooners this season.

Both Red River rivals are well alive in the race for the College Football Playoff this year, but likely need to win out. One loss for the Sooners in Big 12 play might not eliminate them, though, if they wind up winning the conference title. Either way, the Longhorns and Sooners are resetting the balance of power in the Big 12 to the way it traditionally should be.

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