Oklahoma coach Brent Venables is no stranger to the rivalry with Texas. But he's never seen a Red River Showdown quite like this.
Texas counterpart Steve Sarkisian doesn't have nearly as much experience with the annual meeting between the two at Dallas' Cotton Bowl, but he hasn't either.
For the first time since 1998, the game will feature a pair of unranked opponents when they kick off
The Sooners come in scuffling, having lost consecutive regular-season games for just the second time since 1999. Oklahoma (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) dropped games to Kansas State and TCU.
The Sooners were in a similar position two seasons ago, before a four-overtime 53-45 win over the Longhorns began a six-game winning streak that vaulted Oklahoma into the Big 12 Championship Game.
Although some of his players said having the rivalry game could help turn things around, Venables brushed that notion aside.
"I know the emotion, the intensity, and what this game has meant to so many people," Venables said. "But we shouldn't prepare for this game any different than we do any other game. And if we are and I allow that then I'm not doing a good job leading.
"We couldn't do extra this week or be more committed this week. We should be habitual in how we get ready to play."
Texas (3-2, 1-1) is coming off a 38-20 win over West Virginia and has lost two games by a combined four points, including a one-point loss to top-ranked Alabama.
The Sooners have won four consecutive games in the series beginning with the 2018 Big 12 Championship Game.
Sarkisian said the Longhorns couldn't take Oklahoma lightly even with their recent struggles.
"Last time I checked this morning when I walked in our building, the Golden Hat wasn't there," Sarkisian said, referencing the trophy the game's winner takes home. "It's going to take maximum mental intensity and focus and execution to come out on top. That's what we're striving to do."
Questions at quarterback are likely to linger into the game.
Sooners' starter Dillon Gabriel was knocked out of the loss to TCU in the second quarter and is in concussion protocol. If Gabriel can't go, Pitt transfer Davis Beville is likely to start.
Hudson Card has started the last three games for Texas after Quinn Ewers (clavicle) was knocked out of the loss to Alabama.
Neither coach offered much in the way of updates on their quarterback's status entering Saturday's game.
--Field Level Media