Monday, August 17, 2009

Week #7: The Red River Rivalry

October 10th, 1900 in Austin, TX is a significant day in the annals of college football history.


A game was played that day between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, even though Oklahoma was still considered Indian Territory at the time and didn't become an official state until 1907. The final score that day was 28-2 in favor the Longhorns. The Longhorns would go on to dominate the early part of the series and still hold a 58-40-5 all-time record against the Sooners.

The rivalry is as intense as they come. Each region of the United States feels their local rivalry is the best, the meanest, the most important and the biggest and that feeling holds true around Big XII country and especially in Oklahoma and Texas. The Sooners of the north own more national championships (7) and more Heisman Trophy winners (5) than Texas while Texas claims the Sooners never would have won all those championships without all the Texas born talent that has filled the Sooner depth charts all this time. It's partly true. The list of Sooners recruited out of Texas high schools is a Who's Who of college football stars. The likes of Billy Sims (Hooks), Adrian Peterson (Palestine), Jack Mildren (Abilene), Joe Washington (Port Arthur), Quentin Griffin (Houston), Tommie Harris (Killeen), Brian Bosworth (Irving), Daryl Hunt (Odessa) and Ricky Dixon (Dallas) all crossed the Red River to play college football for the Sooners.

There have been lean years in this rivalry (Head Coaches John Blake, Howard Schnellenberger for OU) but not anymore. Each time the Sooners and Longhorns have battled while coached by Bob Stoops and Mack Brown there have been national implications. Since Mack Brown took over in 1998 and Stoops in 1999 each coach has won one national title (Stoops in 2000, Brown in 2005) and the two teams have all but owned the Big XII conference title in that span. Oklahoma has won the conference championship six times (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008) while Texas won it once (2005) . In fact, since 1945 one or both of the teams has been ranked in the Top 25 in 60 of the 65 years. This year, each team comes in with a real shot at the national title, and each can make a great arguement that they have the nation's top quarterback. As always, this game will have serious title repercussions across the nation.

The rivalry gets it's name from the river that seperates the states, the Red River. Formerly known as the Red River Shootout, this year's game marks the 104th time the teams will meet. The winner of the annual battle is given temporary possession of the Golden Hat. The Golden Hat is a bronzed 10-gallon cowboy hat on a wooden base. It's the reward for winning the RRS and it currently resides in Austin. The Sooners hope to bring it back to it's rightful home in Norman.
Once again, it's expected both teams will enter the game undefeated and shooting for another conference championship and national championship. The Sooners are led by 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford while the Longhorns are led by Colt McCoy, who most is the leading candidate to win the trophy in 2009. This will likely be the last battle between Bradford and McCoy. It's expected Bradford will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. McCoy is a senior and will also be joining Bradford in the NFL next season. McCoy won the matchup with Oklahoma in 2006 and 2008 while Bradford won in 2007. Both teams should come into the game highly ranked and ready for a rumble. Expect fireworks.

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