A painful memory crossed Tom Herman at Big 12 Media Days.
Surrounded by reporters, the Longhorns football coach paused mid-sentence while answering a question in Arlington, Texas.
"It's hard for me to watch that catch," Herman told media members as he gazed at a nearby video board.
The display facing Herman showed a clip of former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray’s game-sealing touchdown pass to Grant Calcaterra at AT&T Stadium last season.
The catch secured the Sooners a Big 12 championship game victory over Herman’s Longhorns and happened in the same building as last week’s Big 12 football media gathering.
The contest came weeks after Texas beat OU at a different Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex venue. And two OU-Texas meetings in the same season could become a regular occurrence.
“It was a fight, two times in a row,” OU receiver CeeDee Lamb said of last year’s battles vs. the Longhorns. “That's kinda what it is. It's like, man, it was a blow-for-blow two times in one year.
“I tip my hat off to them guys. They come out every year with their best foot forward and they fight. And so do we, so that's why that game is so much of an impact, as big as it is now.”
Before the 2018 season, the Red River rivals hadn’t finished with the conference's top two records since 2008.
The rivalry naturally lost its luster with OU winning four conference titles outright since 2010 and Texas posting four losing seasons in the same span.
The annual Dallas showdown has regained steam with last year’s close battles and the media picking the Sooners and Longhorns to finish first and second, respectively, again this season.
The historic Cotton Bowl’s monopoly on the 119-year-old rivalry has come to an end. But the change of scenery seems fitting for the rivalry's resurgence.
OU defensive tackle Neville Gallimore likes the Cotton Bowl with its crimson and burnt orange divide at the 50-yard line. But AT&T Stadium has become a fun place for the Sooners, he says.
Gallimore, who's entering his final college season, certainly doesn't mind adding his team's rivalry with Texas to the atmosphere.
“It means everything,” Gallimore said. “That’s what it’s all about, apart from the fans, the politics and all that, we’re all players, we love football. We want to showcase our abilities. It’s always a great thing that it’s been put on a high pedestal, but at the end of the day as a player we just want to play and compete.”
Plays like Calcaterra’s one-handed grab in the Big 12 championship game are sure to hurt more as the rivalry’s stakes continue to build.
OU faced similar heartbreak earlier in the 2018 season when Texas kicker Cameron Dicker nailed a last-second 40-yard field goal to beat the Sooners 48-45.
Close calls and haunting plays come with the territory of two high-profile programs facing each other regularly. But OU’s players left the impression they expect more of the same in 2019.
“I feel like it's gonna be the same as last year,” Lamb said. “It's gonna be a gunfight. It's gonna be a war.”