Texas Tech – OU series full of controversy and memorable moments


This week sees the renewal of one of the Big 12’s most odd series as Texas Tech travels to Norman, Oklahoma to face the Oklahoma Sooners. Though the two teams have met only 22 times, this rivalry has provided some spectacularly controversial and memorable moments.

The two schools did not meet until 1992, just four years prior to the inaugural season of the Big 12. On that day, the Sooners rolled into Lubbock and handed Spyke Dykes’ team a 34-9 loss. The teams would meet again in the Sun Bowl just one season later and unfortunately for Texas Tech, the results were similar. The Sooners again humbled the Red Raiders by a score of 41-10.

In fact, Oklahoma holds a 16-6 overall series lead. However, in the last decade Texas Tech has begun to hold its own against one of the true marquee programs in the nation. And it seems than when Texas Tech defeats Oklahoma, something odd or controversial often occurs.

Dykes would end his coaching career against the Sooners when Oklahoma came to Lubbock for the final game of the 1999 regular season. By the end of the afternoon, as one Texas Tech legend rode off into the sunset, another Texas Tech legend would be born.

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Due to injury, a wide-eyed redshirt freshman quarterback from New Braunfels, Texas was forced to make his first career start against the heavily favored Sooners. Throwing for 259 yards on 9 of 17 passing and three touchdown passes, Kliff Kingsbury would lead his team to a second half comeback sending Spyke Dykes into retirement with a victory.

Dykes’ successor would be Oklahoma offensive coordinator Mike Leach, adding another layer to this Big 12 rivalry. Ultimately, it would take five years and a near miracle for Leach to finally defeat his former employer.

On November 19th, 2005 Texas Tech bested Oklahoma, and its star running back Adrian Peterson, on the final play of the game when Texas Tech running back Taurean Henderson plunged into the end zone from three yards out giving the Red Raiders a 23-21 victory.

This game will forever be defined by numerous controversies.

With only 1:33 remaining in the game,  Texas Tech quarterback Cody Hodges moved his team from its own 40-yard-line to the Oklahoma 21 where the Red Raiders faced a 4th down and three. Hodges’ pass was tipped straight up into the air and as it came down, Texas Tech inside receiver Danny Amendola and an Oklahoma defender were wrestling for the ball.

Possession was given to Amendola and the officials marked the ball just past the line to gain. After official review, the ruling was upheld and Tech’s drive continued.

But that play was just the appetizer for one of the defining plays in the Texas Tech – Oklahoma series.

With four seconds remaining in the game, Texas Tech ran a draw to Henderson who somehow wove his way through the defense just enough to stretch the ball across the goal line for the game-winning score.

On the play, one side judge signaled touchdown while the other side judge signaled that Henderson was down outside the end zone.

The play would be reviewed and Texas Tech was awarded the touchdown giving the Red Raiders the win. Fans of both schools have analyzed the video of this play as if it were the Zapruder film and to this day, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the pile through which Henderson emerged. Supporters of each team can produce photos or replays they say proves their team’s stance was correct.

Ten years later, Sooners and Red Raiders are still prone to argue over Henderson’s touchdown.  Mike Leach’s first victory over Oklahoma sent Texas Tech to the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 1995.

After the game, another odd incident unfolded. Oklahoma reporters were interviewing OU fullback J.D. Runnels when this happened:

That Texas Tech fan provided a strange epilogue to one of the most bizarre games in Texas Tech football history.

Since then, Texas Tech has proven to be a thorn in the side of Oklahoma.

In 2007, Texas Tech derailed a possible National Title opportunity for the Sooners. After knocking OU quarterback Sam Bradford out of the game, Texas Tech upset the No. 3 ranked Sooners 34-27 behind standout performances from junior quarterback Graham Harrell and redshirt freshman wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

The 2009 contest provided another odd and ironic chapter to the series. Though the game was a route (Texas Tech won 41-13), it would prove to be the final game for Mike Leach as the head coach of Texas Tech.

With that victory, Leach surpassed his predecessor Spyke Dykes as Texas Tech’s winningest head coach and he did so by defeating Oklahoma, the school he left for Texas Tech ten year earlier. And what is even more ironic is that both Leach and Dykes coached their last game at Texas Tech against Oklahoma.

The biggest upset Texas Tech has pulled off in this series came in 2011 when an unranked Red Raider team traveled to Norman, Oklahoma and defeated an Oklahoma team ranked No. 1 in one poll and No. 3 in another.

That game would prove to he the high-water mark of the Tommy Tuberville era at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders would proceed to lose their final seven games of that season and miss postseason play for the first time since 1999, snapping the longest active streak of bowl appearances by any Big 12 team.

This week, Texas Tech heads into Norman again as a heavy underdog. But history indicates that something memorable or unusual may lay in store come kickoff.

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