In the third quarter of OU’s scathing 63-14 win over No. 11 Texas in 2000, Sooners wide receiver Damian Mackey looked over at Longhorn cornerback Quentin Jammer and laughed.
Mackey, then a redshirt sophomore, can’t remember what the score was at the time. All he remembers is that it was “a whole bunch to a little” after the Sooners completed the first half up 42-7. Relishing Texas' demise, Mackey wanted to let Jammer, a two-time All-Big 12 selection and future first-round NFL Draft pick, know it was over.
“Bro, how's it feel?”
For the Sooners, it felt more than good to put a beatdown on their rivals after dropping the three previous Red River Showdowns. It was a strong message of what the 2000 team was about.
The win kicked off what the Sooner history books have deemed as “Red October,” when second-year head coach Bob Stoops led his team to victories against No. 2 Kansas State and No. 1 Nebraska, and eventually OU’s seventh national championship. To Oklahoma players, coaches and fans, it was the beginning of a massive culture change after 14 years of a championship drought.
“When you look at it from the whole perspective of, ‘Well, OU is 0-3 going into this game,’ that part of it wasn’t in the mindset or whatever,” said former OU linebacker Dan Cody, then a true freshman. “I think that was kind of the beauty of the new-age Bob Stoops era.”
Leading up to the game, OU was 4-0 and ranked No. 10 after starting the season at No. 19 in the AP Poll. After spending the past decade with down years, three losing seasons and seven Red River Showdown losses, the Sooners were just coming off a loss to Mississippi in the Independence Bowl. Despite being ranked in the preseason for the first time in five years, outside expectations for Stoops’ second year weren’t high.
But with quarterback Josh Heupel going into his final season, along with a grueling offseason of conditioning, the Sooners felt 2000 was their year.
“(Heupel) was a very motivational guy. I remember specifically he talked about the word ‘expect’ — expecting to win,” Cody said. “That was at the beginning of the season. So, here you talk about expectations, I remember that was very much what he hankered his message on: Going into the 2000 season … expecting to win.”
The Sooners fell to Texas the year before, 38-28, after blowing a 17-3 lead going into the second quarter. That game, along with multiple others where the team lost last-game leads, was one where the Sooners beat themselves.
But this time, not only did they expect to win, they expected to win big. The Sooners coasted in their first four games of the season, but a 34-16 win over Kansas was enough to make Stoops rethink game prep. Stoops thought his team was missing the mental fortitude to close out games, so starting on OU-Texas week, he implemented 6 a.m. meetings every Monday and Tuesday for every game week going forward.
“Bob said, ‘We ain't doing this no more,’” Mackey said. “I felt like they thought we weren't mentally prepared. We didn't know our stuff well enough. … Film time is a bonding time. You’re with the guys, you got your feet up. … You're kind of talking crap, shooting the shit and you’re hanging out with your guys. Everybody's seeing the same thing and being able to kind of work in unison. So I would say that was a huge, pivotal point for us.
“When we went into that game, we knew what they were going to do with all their formations. We knew their blitz packages. We knew their personnel. So we were confident we will kick their ass without question. This wasn't one of those things where we were hopeful. We knew we gave the game away the year before. So going into that 2000 season, we were confident.”
Thanks to a rough workout regiment coordinated by then-strength coach Jerry Schmidt, the Sooners felt more physical than ever, too. Mackey recalls a conversation with tight end Trent Smith after practice that offseason, where Smith said, “If we don’t win the natty this year, this wasn’t worth it.”
It paid off. OU’s added intensity helped them not only beat teams in all four quarters, but also add a little extra to wins.
“(The game) told us we could play with anybody,” Mackey said. “And not only can we play with anybody, we were aiming to beat you. And we're not just going to beat you, we want to beat you up. You're going to feel it. We took that personal.
“We're just looking for any reason to have a chip on our shoulder. We're looking for any reason to prove a point. And we knew OU’s tradition and the guys we had in our locker room, and Texas was kind of like the coming out party.”
Soon after kickoff, all eyes were on elusive running back Quentin Griffin, who tallied 87 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards and six rushing touchdowns — three in each half that day, still a program record for rushing touchdowns in a game. Griffin repeatedly took advantage of screen and shovel passes the Longhorns could not contain.
“Dude, (Griffin)’s 5'6, 195 pounds, a butterball, strong as hell, balanced like Barry Sanders and he runs a 4.4(-second) 40,” Mackey said. “So, good luck.”
The OU offense averaged 6.4 yards per play to Texas’ 2.7, and was 11-of-15 on third-down conversions. Heupel threw for 275 yards and a touchdown.
The Sooner defense, which had linebackers Cody and Rocky Calmus, and defensive backs J.T. Thatcher and Roy Williams, held Texas quarterbacks Major Applewhite and Chris Simms to a combined 165 passing yards, a touchdown and forced two interceptions. The Longhorns finished the game with -7 net rushing yards.
Not only did Oklahoma put on one of its most dominant performances in the Stoops era, showcasing a well-oiled machine on both sides of the ball, but set the tone for what OU football was in 2000 and would be for years.
Since 2000, OU has gone on to beat Texas 12 more times since — plus in a victory over Texas in the 2018 Big 12 championship — and produced countless memories that fill Sooner lore. But the 2000 beatdown was much more than the series’ most lopsided victory.
“It was the new Stoops era, the new age of disciplined football, the new disciplined defensive football,” Cody said. “It set a new standard back then. … It was a new era. I think OU showed up with a much better product.
“And Texas has been trying to play catch-up ever since.”