John E. Hoover: History shows first-time starting QBs struggle in Red River Rivalry

John E. Hoover: History shows first-time starting QBs struggle in Red River Rivalry

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, here against Texas in 2007, is one of just two first-time starting quarterbacks in the Red River Rivalry to beat a more experienced counterpart. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)

NORMAN — Sooner Nation, are you depressed about the way Oklahoma played last week against Iowa State? Are you discouraged by Texas’ 2-0 start in Big 12 Conference play?

Looking for that hidden edge in the OU-Texas game that will lend assurance to a Sooner victory?

Here you go.

Since 1990, quarterbacks who have starting or significant game experience in the Red River Rivalry are 12-2-1 against quarterbacks making their first start in the game.

That’s pretty easy math.

This year’s game features OU’s Baker Mayfield, a two-time starter at State Fair Park, versus, probably, Sam Ehlinger, a true freshman and OU-Texas virgin.

Ehlinger is likely to start after outperforming sophomore and 2016 starter Shane Buechele so far this season as Buechele has been chased out of games by injury and Ehlinger has been dynamic.

If Buechele starts, of course, then both starting quarterbacks will have played in the Cotton Bowl showdown and, well, this formula doesn’t apply. Also, it doesn’t apply if two first-year starters are going head-to-head. Those games are virtual toss-ups.

It’s a pressure cooker of jeers and dueling bands and stinky mascots and college football history. For someone who’s never done it before, it’s even worse.

The only two first-time QBs to beat a more experienced counterpart were Sooners: Justin Fuente outlasted James Brown in 1996 and Sam Bradford hung on to beat Colt McCoy in 2007.

That’s it. From Steve Collins in 1990 to Buechele in 2016, no other first-time starting QB in the Red River Rivalry could pull out a victory when facing a quarterback with more OU-Texas experience.

This is no fluke. It’s history, and it’s real. Take a look at the stats below. Most of these aren’t just the other team winning. Most correlate directly back to bad quarterback play.

Sooner Nation, looks like Baker’s got this.

Unless Buechele is back.


Since 1990, first-year starting QBs in the Red River Rivalry are 2-12-1 against quarterbacks who have previously started or played a significant role. Here’s how they have performed in the games:

1990 (Texas 14, OU 13)

Steve Collins, OU (vs. Peter Gardere)

  • Passing: 1-5, 6 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT
  • Rushing: 3-8

1991 (Texas 10, OU 7)

* Cale Gundy, OU (vs. Peter Gardere)

  • Passing: 5-17, 69 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT (6 sacks)
  • Rushing: 9-(-42)

1993 (Oklahoma 38, Texas 17)

Shea Morenz, Texas (vs. Cale Gundy)

  • Passing: 20-36, 263 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT (3 sacks)
  • Rushing: 4-(-10)

1995 (OU 24, Texas 24)

Eric Moore, OU (vs. James Brown)

  • Passing: 7-15, 48 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT (2 sacks)
  • Rushing: 9-36

1996 (OU 30, Texas 27)

Justin Fuente, OU (vs. James Brown)

  • Passing: 15-34, 165 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
  • Rushing: 1-3

1999 (Texas 38, OU 28)

Josh Heupel, OU (vs. Major Applewhite)

  • Passing: 31-48, 311 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT (2 sacks)
  • Rushing: 6-(-13)

2004 (OU 12, Texas 0)

Vince Young, Texas * (vs. Jason White)

  • Passing: 8-23, 86 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT (3 sacks)
  • Rushing: 16-54

2005 (Texas 45, OU 12)

Rhett Bomar, OU (vs. Vince Young)

  • Passing: 12-33, 94 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT (3 sacks)
  • Rushing: 12-9

2007 (OU 28, Texas 21)

Sam Bradford, OU (vs. Colt McCoy)

  • Passing: 21-32, 244 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT (1 sack)
  • Rushing: 3-(-6)

2009 (Texas 16, OU 13)

+ Landry Jones, OU

  • Passing: 24-43, 250 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT (1 sack)
  • Rushing: 3-(-4)

2010 (OU 28, Texas 20)

Garrett Gilbert, Texas (vs. Landry Jones)

  • Passing: 27-41, 266 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT (3 sacks)
  • Rushing: 5-(-18)

2011 (OU 55, Texas 17)

Case McCoy, Texas (vs. Landry Jones)

  • Passing: 9-15, 116 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT (3 sacks)
  • Rushing: 9-(-38)

2012 (OU 62, Texas 21)

* David Ash, Texas (vs. Landry Jones)

  • Passing: 13-29, 113 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs (3 sacks)
  • Rushing: 6-16

2013 (Texas 36, Oklahoma 20)

* Blake Bell (vs. Case McCoy)

  • Passing: 12-26, 133 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs (4 sacks)
  • Rushing: 7-(-27)

2016 (Oklahoma 45, Texas 40)

Shane Buechele (vs. Baker Mayfield)

  • Passing: 19-36, 245 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT (4 sacks)
  • Rushing: 11-27


* played as a backup in the previous season’s game

+ didn’t start but entered game early in 1st quarter



Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at


Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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