This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Dallas to see the 108th Red River Rivalry. I had no doubt in my mind that Oklahoma would control the game from start to finish and leave as the best team in the Big 12.
In 14 games, OU coach Bob Stoops has defeated Mack Brown nine times. Most years the two schools have been ranked inside the top 25 teams in the nation. It’s as close to a mid-season bowl game as any rivalry game can get.
This game makes or breaks each team’s season. The winner of the Red River Rivalry has gone on to eight BCS Bowls and three BCS National Championship games in the past ten years. This may not be the case anymore.
For a coach with such an impressive winning percentage (77.3), Brown always seems to foul it up when he faces Oklahoma. Maybe he’s afraid of the color red, who knows?
He certainly was not afraid of the Sooners in this one. The Longhorns looked like an entirely new team. Right out of the gate Texas’ offensive line was dominant, allowing for their stable of running backs to make big gains on the ground early. Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown both had hundred-yard rushing days.
Once Oklahoma started keying on the run, Case McCoy put on a show. McCoy, while overthrowing receivers on multiple occasions along with committing a pick-six, threw two NFL- quality passes to Marcus Johnson and Mike Davis to pad Texas’ lead.
At the end of the third quarter Texas’ bench cleared onto the field, cheering and celebrating the start of the fourth quarter. I have personally attended more than 100 Texas football games; not one of them have I seen a Longhorns team more excited than they were after their win last Saturday.
It will go down as one of Brown’s signature victories and will help soften the memories of the many Texas alums that want him replaced. With this stunning upset, Texas has changed the scope not only of its own program but of the Big 12.
In two weeks Oklahoma will host Texas Tech at home, after which the Sooners will travel to Waco to face Baylor, which now looks like the strongest team in the Big 12. With one loss already and victories over either of these teams, Texas may stand alone at the top of the Big 12 by early November.
With Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and, soon to be, Texas ranked in the top 25, the Big 12 is gaining ground on the SEC. The teams have started to even out – at a high plateau. The Oklahoma teams, who looked dominant early, are now giving ground to the Texas schools.
The days have long passed when Oklahoma and Texas ruled the Big 12 and the Red River Rivalry determined the outcome of the conference. It’s much more than a two-team show. The Big 12 is now the most competitive conference in college football.