Every year, on the Friday before game day, Interstate 35 is a sight to behold. Travelling northbound, we have the Texas Longhorns team caravan. Travelling southbound, is the Oklahoma Sooner team. Both will meet almost exactly in the middle I-35 in Dallas, Texas at the Cotton Bowl (Austin is actually only 7 miles further).
The I-35 drive is a sight to see. The team buses headed down the freeway, cars pulling up along side of the buses, holding signs, waving, and cheering. It’s amazing to watch. Almost like the boys are going into battle…
Oklahoma and Texas have been playing since 1900, when Oklahoma was still just a U.S. Territory, and the University of Oklahoma campus was still part of the Oklahoma territory. They have only been playing the game as a conference match-up for 15 years, the start of the Big XII conference.
If you have never been to the Red River game, it is one of those iconic college match-ups everyone should experience once in their life.
It has to be one of the best sports experiences around. The Cotton Bowl is in the middle of the State fair of Texas, which is held annually during the month of September/October. You have the game noises, the rides, the fried food; which I hear there is actually fried biscuits and gravy this year. To check out all that the fair has to offer, look at the official State Fair website.
Besides the food, the rides, and the concerts, their is actually football being played this weekend. And this year, the Red River is actually back to one of its finer moments. Both teams are ranked, Oklahoma is No. 3 and Texas has been sneaking up on everyone and has landed at No. 11. This is only the second time in seven years, both teams have come into the game 4-0.
The Longhorns go into this game with a lot of confidence on their shoulders. A team who was unranked at the beginning of the season and wasn’t given a chance is now in the mix. Granted, they are 4-0 playing Rice, BYU, UCLA and Iowa State. So most really wouldn’t call those marquee wins. They have been improving though on the offensive side of the ball.
Quite a few Texas fans are also touting the Longhorns new offensive coordinator from Boise State, Brian Harsin. Yes, he is a great play caller and everyone remembers the Boise State Fiesta Bowl trickery. He plans on running a two QB system with Case McCoy and David Ash against the Sooners on Saturday. The last time the Longhorns ran a two QB system against the Sooners was the Chris Simms and Major Applewhite combo. Texas went with Simms, and much to all the Texas fans dismay, this happened.
I can see this happening. Just replace Roy Williams with Travis Lewis and Teddy Lehman with Tom Wort. The Longhorns haven’t played a defense as physical as the Sooners and will be or an offense that runs the hurry up like Oklahoma does. Not saying Texas can’t hang, they have vastly improved over the last couple of weeks, but this Horn team is very young, and the big game factor is lacking for most of them. Garrett Gilbert, their QB who did have the experience with big games is out for the rest of the season and is actually transferring out next year.
“I always think Texas is good,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said about the match-up. ”It’s always hard to gauge where we’re at, where they’re at. You go into the game, and you’ve got to play it. You get each other’s best shot, so it’s always a little bit different than maybe how you might play against somebody else.”
The Red River Shootout is one of those games that always can go either way. This year, I have a feeling it will be going in favor of the crimson. Yes, I am biased, but looking at the numbers and the heart and chemistry of this Sooner team, the odds are in their favor.
ESPN’s College Game Day will be at Dallas’ Fair Park Saturday morning doing their show live. The game will be showed nationally on ABC with a 11:00 AM CST kickoff.