DALLAS – It's one of the biggest, and best-known rivalries in all of college football.
The stage -- the Cotton Bowl in Dallas -- is not far from the dividing line between the two states of Oklahoma and Texas. And for the two teams, which often recruit the same players, this game is the exclamation point that can determine either a successful or failing season.
This year, No. 12 Oklahoma is coming off a surprising loss to Iowa State in Norman and now faces Texas, the winner of two straight games and surprising leader in the Big 12.
Beyond the rivalry, the game is meaningful for additional reasons. Texas has had three straight losing seasons, but the Longhorns might just be on the verge of a breakthrough. Texas currently is tied with TCU for first place in the conference and a win over Oklahoma would be huge for the program.
The game is also the first meeting between two new head coaches -- Tom Herman for the University of Texas and Lincoln Riley of the University of Oklahoma. Both coaches would like to claim an early victory over the other to place squarely on their resume.
Here's AP's breakdown of the Red River Showdown on Saturday:
No. 12 Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) vs. Texas (3-2, 2-0) in Dallas, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Line: Oklahoma by 8.
Series record: Texas leads 61-45-5.
WHAT'S AT STAKE:
A whole bunch. Oklahoma's hopes of making the College Football Playoff. Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield's Heisman contender status. Texas's surprise early lead in the Big 12 standings. And bragging rights for both head coaches, Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley and Texas' Tom Herman, who are meeting in this storied rivalry for the first time.
Texas freshman QB Sam Ehlinger vs. Sooners MLB Kenneth Murray. Herman won't commit to starting Ehlinger, but his start and win over Kansas State point to Ehlinger taking over the offense. The Sooners will need a spy on him to limit Ehlinger as a rusher. That likely falls to Murray to defend against quarterback draws and power runs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Oklahoma: Mayfield. After the loss to Iowa State, the Sooners will be looking to their senior quarterback to provide the leadership and touchdown passes to get their season back on track. Mayfield admitted he sees the game as a chance to create a legacy in the storied rivalry. But he's also excitable and will need to keep his emotions in check against a defense that will blitz him often.
Texas: WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. The freshman is on the verge of a breakout season and turning into a favorite target for Ehlinger. He had 12 catches for 121 yards last week. He also had a punt return for a touchdown in the first game. Several Texas-Oklahoma games have been swung by big touchdowns on special teams.
FACTS & FIGURES: This is the first time both teams have first-year head coaches since Texas had Blair Cherry and Oklahoma had Bud Wilkinson back in 1947 ... Texas hasn't started 3-0 in the Big 12 since winning the title in 2009 and hasn't won three games in a row since 2014 ... Mayfield has thrown for at least two touchdowns in 18 consecutive games, a Big 12 record.