Oklahoma and Texas carry the Big 12, but what happens when they leave?

Kaitlyn Harmon, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the October 8 Double Coverage flipbook.

Perhaps the most exciting 60 minutes of both the Longhorns’ and Sooners’ seasons come from a place where a Golden Hat is up for grabs. Sixty minutes of pure adrenaline, grit and old-fashioned competition followed by six weeks of mediocre football until a hopeful bowl game.

Texas and Oklahoma are bored. But the good news for both programs is that in four years, Longhorns and Sooners – fans, alumni and students – will not have to be bored for much longer. With an invitation to join the SEC in hand, both teams will get the chance to battle against powerhouse SEC teams week after week in the trenches. An Arkansas-Texas rivalry that spans over 79 matchups, a beloved LSU-Texas duel and an eternally charged rivalry between the Aggies and the Longhorns will all return. Texas fans will get to relive each rivalry every year, for all the years to come.

And the Red River Showdown isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

When the Longhorns face the Sooners on Saturday, it will have been 728 days since the programs last met within the walls of the Cotton Bowl in front of a 100% capacity crowd. In 2019, Texas drove down the field with less than two minutes left, putting up a score of 27-34 to lose by a touchdown.

That 2019 duel brought in one of the biggest television audiences in the rivalry since 2009.  The matchup raked in 7.2 million viewers, making it the fifth-most watched regular season game in FOX Sports history at the time, according to Nielsen ratings and a USA Today report.

In the last five matchups between the two programs, OU has won four competitions, and all five games have finished with the victor having an 8-point win over their opponent.

Close, nail-biting games and cutthroat, merciless rivalries bring in TV ratings. For both programs, a shared character trait seems to be tight games that consistently come down to the wire.

Both Texas and Oklahoma are home to some of the most watched college football programs in the country, according to a Medium report. Medium ranked Oklahoma as the No. 8 ranked most watched college football program between 2015 and 2019 with 2.9 million viewers each week, while Texas was ranked at No. 13 with approximately 2.2 million viewers each week.

And with consistently high-ranking fan bases come forth lucrative broadcast deals and media rights. By analyzing 25 college football programs, a 2019 Forbes study found that 29% of the income of NCAA D1 football programs relied on television revenue. Behind TV deals and broadcast rights, ticket revenue raked in 27% and contributions (or donors) 26%.

In that same study, Forbes found that both Texas and Oklahoma rank in the top-10 for the most valuable college football teams in 2019. The Longhorns topped the Sooners at No. 2 with a three-year average revenue of $147 million. Oklahoma ranked sixth with $129 million in three-year average revenue.

Since 2010, Oklahoma has finished within the top two in Big 12 rankings eight times. For Texas, the Longhorns have finished within the top four in Big 12 rankings six times, with their highest Big 12 finish being ranked No. 2 in 2018, right behind the Sooners.

Texas and Oklahoma carry the Big 12 in ratings, revenue and standings, and when the two ship off to the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 will be left with a gaping hole, struggling to survive.