First Oklahoma-Texas rematch in 115 years fueled by trash talk

While at the podium Monday, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was reminded how much he'd said he respected Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's game. Then, Murray was asked how much he respected the game of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Murray looked down, chuckled and said, "I've got no comment on that."

Later Monday evening, Ehlinger, borrowing a phrase from his head coach, posted this on Twitter:

Tuesday, Ehlinger was coy about the meaning of his tweet. But the message for Saturday's Big 12 championship was clear. And the tone was set for the 114th meeting of the Red River Showdown -- the first rematch since 1903 and only the third ever -- where the venom for one of college football's most historic, yet hostile rivalries has been bubbling over.

"It's gonna be a dirty game," Texas defensive tackle Chris Nelson said. "You'll probably see hitting after the whistle. You'll probably see a lot of stuff if you keep your eyes open.

"It's gonna be a dogfight. But I love it, man."

That's what happens when two teams that overtly detest each other meet for the second time in a season with massive stakes on the line.

For Texas, the Longhorns have an opportunity, in head coach Tom Herman's second year, to win their first Big 12 championship since 2009. They can also join the 1901 Longhorns as the only other Texas squad to beat Oklahoma twice in the same season.

For Oklahoma, the Sooners can avenge their 48-45 October loss to the Longhorns. They can also become the first team to win four straight Big 12 titles, while making a strong case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff for a third time in four years.

"It's such an interesting deal with the way it's all shaken out to kind of come back to this," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. "It feels fitting, you know?

"I'm sure it's gonna be heated."

Will it ever.

The trash talk commenced two weeks ago, before the championship game pairing had even been set.

After Texas defeated Iowa State, Longhorns defensive end Breckyn Hager was informed that Oklahoma's struggling defense had surrendered 40 points to last-place Kansas, making the Sooners the first team since the Associated Press poll debuted in 1936 to win three games in a row while still giving up at least 40 points.

Hager was walking back to the Texas locker room when he turned around and said, "Hey, OU has no defense."

Hager stopped again, pointed to a nearby clock and added: "Wait, wait -- it's 11:12 and what? OU still sucks." It's a common refrain among Texas fans, especially on Red River weekend.

Hager was publicly reprimanded by the Big 12 and forced to issue an apology -- not that the Sooners were about to accept it.

Last Friday night, after Oklahoma clinched its Big 12 title game berth with a 59-56 victory at West Virginia, linebacker Curtis Bolton, who scored a defensive touchdown against the Mountaineers off a fumble recovery, responded to Hager's comments.

"Blows my mind," Bolton said. "We hung 50 [45] on them, too. If anyone on their defense has anything to say, they can have fun playing Kyler next week."

Murray was in no mood to talk about the Longhorns this week, claiming even that he hasn't "thought about them."

That is hard to believe, considering the first result ended in Murray's low point of an otherwise spectacular season, as Texas held him in check through three quarters, forcing him into a pair of turnovers. Murray finally emerged in the fourth quarter, quarterbacking the Sooners to three touchdowns in six minutes to erase Texas' 21-point lead.

Still, he was overshadowed by Ehlinger, who delivered the finest performance of his career. The Texas sophomore passed for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns, rushed for 72 yards and 3 touchdowns and then led the Longhorns down the field in the closing seconds to set up Texas' winning field goal.

Afterward, Ehlinger went up to Murray for a postgame handshake, leading to a testy exchange on the field. Neither Murray nor Ehlinger have disclosed what was said.

Whatever it was, it was clearly contentious.

"This is all I'll say about it: If it was the other way around, I would've been with my teammates. If we would've won the game, I wasn't gonna run up to him in that moment," Murray said Monday, before giving the "no comment" on whether he respected Ehlinger.

Tuesday, Ehlinger responded that he "absolutely respected" Murray's game. But Murray's take on Ehlinger drew plenty of fire from the Texas players.

"I guess ol' boy doesn't like losing," Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu said. "If you know him or if you've heard how he is, it's not surprising. It's funny to me, actually. I saw it and started laughing. It's very, very funny. It's just funny. I'm probably going to go laugh after this. I'm going to go look at it and laugh some more."

In October at the Cotton Bowl, Omenihu mimicked a home-run swing after sacking Murray, the ninth overall pick in the MLB draft by the Oakland A's. He said this week he's aiming even higher at AT&T Stadium, the home of Jerry Jones' Dallas Cowboys.

"I told y'all when I swung it was 450 feet," he said. "I'm going to try and hit Jerry's big TV up there."

Riley, meanwhile, wasn't laughing Monday about recently fired Kansas coach David Beaty helping the Longhorns prepare for the Big 12 championship game.

Monday, Herman confirmed that Beaty would assist Texas on eliminating glaring offensive and defensive tendencies and signals that might tip off the Sooners. According to Herman, Beaty was originally going to fly to Austin. But because of the weather in Kansas City, he has been helping the Longhorns by telephone from Kansas instead.

"Coach Beaty can do what he wants to do," said Riley, whose younger brother, Garrett, had served on Beaty's Kansas staff. "I don't like the precedent of it, of being able to bring in somebody from the league in the same year. I don't think it's good for the conference.

"But it's not against the rules, so if they want to do it, that's fine."

Truth is, rules have never really mattered all that much when Texas and Oklahoma have clashed.

In fact, at Colcord Park in Oklahoma City, in 1903, the last time there was a rematch, Texas' Bill "Mogul" Robinson dove underneath a horse hitched to a buggy -- not to be confused with the Sooner Schooner -- to recover a loose ball, giving the Longhorns the decisive touchdown.

Now, 115 years later, college football finally has another Red River Rematch. Where the spoils are significant. The blood is boiling. And the animosity has rarely been more palpable.