A decade after the University of Missouri jumped first, Texas and Oklahoma reportedly are moving closer to leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.
Some key details are yet to be worked out, such as division of broadcast-rights deals and the securing of requisite support from current member schools, but if it happens — and it’s looking ever more likely that it will — adding the financial might of two of the biggest brands in collegiate athletics will solidify the new SEC as its most powerful iteration yet.
Plus, the Tigers will get to see some old foes.
Many Missouri fans will recall that the three schools, MU, UT and OU, were founding members of the Big 12 in 1996, rekindling a football series the Tigers had maintained with the Longhorns since 1894 and Sooners since 1902. Meetings between the schools have been rare since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012, but regular trips to Austin and Norman could soon be at hand again.
With that in mind, here’s a look back at six notable moments in MU’s history against Texas and Oklahoma as their possible reunion looms.
Football vs. Texas, Oct. 18, 1997
Never league combatants until the Big 12’s inception, Texas and Missouri played infrequently leading up to their time as conference mates. But when they did square off, the Longhorns dominated.
Missouri beat Texas 3-0 on Nov. 4, 1916. From there, the Tigers didn’t beat the Longhorns again for 81 years. Those nine meetings between then consisted of five Texas shutouts — including three straight meetings in 1979, 1982 and 1985 — and an average margin of victory of 25.4 points.
In their first Big 12 meeting, in 1996 at Austin, the Longhorns picked up right where they left off, blowing out the Tigers 40-10.
Though Texas had a poor 1997 season, finishing 4-7 and getting coach John Mackovic fired, those Horns had loads of talent, most notably Ricky Williams, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner. He unleashed an 80-yard scamper for a score in the second quarter to tie the game at 10. To that point, each team had kicked a field goal and Tigers tailback Brock Olivo had scored a first-quarter rushing touchdown.
MU led 17-16 after Olivo scored again and Longhorns kicker Phil Dawson missed an extra point. But the second half was Missouri’s. Running backs Ernest Blackwell and David West and quarterback Corby Jones all scored rushing TDs, and that was enough to negate a massive game from Williams, who finished with 243 yards on 23 carries with two scores.
That 37-29 win started a three-game Tigers win streak before the infamous “Flea Kicker” game vs. No. 1 Nebraska on Nov. 8. Missouri recovered from that grueling overtime loss to beat Baylor, then lost to Colorado State in the Holiday Bowl.
Men’s basketball vs. Oklahoma (NCAA Elite Eight), March 23, 2002
The Tigers’ and Sooners’ NCAA Tournament meeting this past March, when No. 8 Oklahoma beat No. 9 Missouri 72-68 in the first round in Indianapolis, probably springs to mind first. But those more in-tune with the Tigers’ history — especially postseason history — know their 81-75 loss at San Jose, Calif., in 2002 was way more heartbreaking.
It denied MU its first Final Four appearance.
Missouri, then coached by current Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, was the darling of the 2002 tournament, storming to the West Regional final as a 12-seed with upsets over No. 5 Miami, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 8 UCLA (all by double digits).
And then came No. 2 seed OU. The Sooners had beaten MU 84-71 in January and were now on a red-hot 11-game win streak.
The Tigers’ pair of future NBA Draft picks — Kareem Rush and Rickey Paulding — kept tight with the Sooners for most of the first half, and Mizzou was leading 32-31 before OU ripped off a 10-2 run to close out the half.
Oklahoma never trailed after the intermission. But Paulding scored a game-high 22 points and Rush nailed a 3-pointer to make it a three-point game, 70-67, with 2:53 to play.
The Sooners followed with a 3-pointer of their own, though, and the Tigers never got within a possession again. Missouri advanced to the Elite Eight again in 2009 under Mike Anderson, losing there to UConn, but hasn’t made it out of the tournament’s second round since.
Men’s basketball vs. Oklahoma, Feb. 12, 2005
Missouri men’s basketball was mostly mediocre in 2004-05. The Tigers finished 16-17, eighth in the Big 12, but occasionally had a flair for playing spoiler.
They gave No. 1 Illinois — maybe the greatest college basketball team ever to not win a national title — a scare in a 70-64 defeat in the annual Braggin’ Rights game, then proceeded to beat No. 12 Gonzaga next. What a win — the Zags would finish 26-5 and make the NCAA Tournament.
So it was that the Tigers and their two future NBA players (sharpshooter Linas Kleiza and future all-Big 12 guard Thomas Gardner) welcomed the No. 16 Sooners to Columbia.
Oklahoma led 37-26 at halftime and extended its advantage to double digits after the break, going up by as many as 14 points before the Tigers regained the lead with an 18-3 run. OU led by 10 with 5:41 to go, but another late MU run — punctuated by a game-tying three from Gardner with 54 seconds showing on the clock — tied it at 59 and sent the game to overtime.
Gardner hit two more triples in overtime, scoring 11 of his 18 points in the final two minutes of regulation and the extra period. Kevin Young’s layup with 1:17 left provided the go-ahead bucket. Things got hairy at the line as Missouri was trying to close out the win — the Tigers missed five of their last six free throws — but Oklahoma didn’t capitalize.
It would be one of three wins over ranked teams that the Tigers earned that year. Another came against No. 7 Kansas in MU’s regular season finale.
Football vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 Championship Game), Dec. 1, 2007
One week after the most high-stakes Missouri-Kansas football game of all-time, when the then-No. 3 Tigers beat the then-No. 2 Jayhawks in Arrowhead Stadium, MU was rewarded with a No. 1 ranking for the first time in the BCS era.
The Tigers were thus just one win away from an appearance in the national championship game.
A stacked Sooners team featuring future pros Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Curtis Lofton had already handed the Tigers their only loss of the season, a 41-31 setback on Oct. 13 in Norman. But OU had lost to Colorado and Texas Tech. That dropped the Sooners down to No. 9 in the rankings, but they were still good enough to reach the Big 12 title game, held that year in San Antonio.
After a quiet first quarter in which Missouri led 3-0 thanks to a Jeff Wolfert field goal, both teams ramped up the offense in the second. OU’s Chris Brown ran for two TDs and MU responded with another Wolfert field goal, and Heisman finalist Chase Daniel rushed for a touchdown with 14 seconds left until halftime. A two-point conversion from Daniel to tight end Martin Rucker knotted the score at 14.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Daniel was held without a passing TD for the first time in 2007 and was responsible for the game’s most critical moment. With his MU team down 21-14 after the Sooners’ Allen Patrick ran for a score with 4:04 left in the third quarter, Daniel was picked off by Lofton, who returned the ball all the way to the Tigers’ 7. Bradford cashed in with a passing TD to tight end Jermaine Gresham, part of a 24-3 second-half Oklahoma run to put the game out of reach.
The Tigers went on to win the Cotton Bowl against current SEC rival Arkansas, but it was MU’s bogey team, Oklahoma, that separated them from a shot at the biggest prize in college football.
Men’s basketball at Texas, Jan. 30, 2012
Missouri men’s basketball made sure it left some marks on its Big 12 farewell tour before jumping to the SEC. Having one of its best seasons ever was icing on the cake.
The Tigers had rocketed to a 19-2 record and top-five national ranking by the time they made their final trip to Austin as a Big 12 school. The Longhorns at the time were mediocre — 13-9 after starting 9-2 — and had already lost once to Missouri (in Columbia earlier that month).
For most of their final Big 12 meeting, it looked as if Texas was doomed to another defeat: Missouri was up by as many as 13 in the second half.
Then the Longhorns rallied, led by a 20-point effort from J’Covan Brown. It was a one-possession game, 65-62, in the final minute. MU guard Michael Dixon was whistled for a flagrant foul after elbowing Texas’ Julien Lewis; Lewis’ free throws and subsequent bucket from Brown gave the Longhorns their first lead since early in the first quarter.
Dixon redeemed himself by knocking down the go-ahead layup with 31 seconds left to put the Tigers ahead 67-66. Texas held for the final shot, but Myck Kabongo was short and MU’s Marcus Denmon secured the rebound for the win.
Texas and Missouri actually played one more time, March at the Big 12 Tournament in KC, and this time the Tigers dismantled the Longhorns 81-67. Kim English and Phil Pressey scored 23 points apiece.
Football vs. Texas (Texas Bowl), Dec. 27, 2017
It was the third time the Missouri football faced a former Big 12 opponent after leaving the league following the 2011 season. And it got weird.
The Tigers, already having somewhat miraculously secured a bowl berth with six straight wins following a 1-5 start, faced a Longhorns team that was ranked in the preseason yet stumbled to 6-6. Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger split time at QB, each throwing a TD in the first quarter to lift UT to a 14-0 lead.
Missouri’s Ish Witter ran in a second-quarter score to make it 14-7, but a fumble return TD put Texas back up by two scores at halftime. Seconds after the second half started, MU quarterback Drew Lock connected with Johnathon Johnson for a 79-yard TD, prompting some extra celebration from the QB.
But the good times didn’t last and MU never led. Tucker McCann kicked a field goal to cut UT’s lead to five points, 21-16, but Mizzou would not score again. To add salt to the Tigers’ wounds, then-Texas coach Tom Herman and some of his players were caught on camera mocking Lock’s previous TD celebration.