Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Week That Will Be Red River Rivalry 2008 Edition

Last Week: 4-2 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 22-13-1 (.629) ($770) ATS 30-6 (.833) SU

What we learned last week: We learned that perhaps Vanderbilt isn’t that bad after all, but keep in mind that Auburn isn’t exactly 2004 Auburn and there is just something strange about seeing a big game played at a place that holds 33,000 people, but congrats to the COMMODORES for a big win…We learned that perhaps Terrelle Pryor has some worth this year after all. The overall numbers weren’t great, but he got the job done in a hostile territory, which is what we all want out of our quarterbacks…They were a bit like a lawnmower that hadn’t been used in a few months, but once USC got going, they did what they did best, trounce a good team like they were supposed to do…Speaking of beating a good team like they were supposed to, Texas Tech proved that perhaps they are better than they have been. I’m not sure other Tech teams go out on the road and perform like that. How fun is this conference this year?...Chase Daniel spit-shined the Heisman Trophy this week with a blowout win over Nebraska. Just 52 points away from the shut-out, Pelini. Jeremy Maclin is f’ing ridiculous….If Colorado was a barometer game for the Longhorns, a high pressure system moved over Boulder Saturday night. The Longhorns still have to find a running back that they know can get them 4 yards on first down, but who needs a running back with the way Colt McCoy is playing?


I don’t need any melodramatic intro to this game.

The Cotton Bowl. Corn dogs. Beer in wax cups.

The tunnel.

"All I can remember is this massive stare down of players, almost like a heavyweight championship fight," Keith Jackson, former Oklahoma tight end

'Walking down the tunnel and standing next to the guys you're about to face on the field is awesome. Then you hear the (guns) shooting and you hear the crowd " half is screaming for OU and the other half is booing. It gives you a rush.'
- Josh Norman, Former Sooner

And that was before they added 16,000 seats.

If those few paragraphs don’t get you fired up, you’re either not a Texas football fan or you only witnessed the 2000-2004 games and you gave up sports forever, which would be understandable.

But, if you still need a little help (what the hell is wrong with you?) watch this. Watch it a few times. I’ll still be here.

”We own the Cotton Bowl!”

Shivers? Chills? Did you just run through your wall like the Kool-Aid mascot?

Yeah. It is Texas/OU week, baby.

I read in the great Adam Jones’s column today that 10 times since 1947 both of these teams have entered the game ranked in the Top 5. Four of those games have been played in the last 8 years, including Saturday’s game.

This has always been a game of streaks. The most famous streak in Texas history is the improbable one of Peter Gardere, who beat a ranked Oklahoma team four years in a row, but otherwise enjoyed a rather unremarkable career on the Forty Acres.

But going back to the mid 1900’s, legendary Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson won 9 of 10 games against Texas at one point in his career, to which Texas responded by hiring a young Oklahoma coach named Darrell Royal. Royal turned the tables on OU, winning 12 of 13 games during one stretch.

Then along came Barry Switzer in the 70’s, who ran Darrell Royal out of football with his outlaw ways, and Oklahoma rose to the top of the college football world, while Texas once again had to worry about beating Baylor every year.

Saint Peter rescued the Longhorns in the early 90’s, but both teams went through tail-spins in the mid-nineties. Then Texas hired Mack Brown, who early in his career was an OU assistant coach, and Texas appeared poised to make another run in the rivalry.

Then Bob Stoops came along.

Brown beat Stoops in the first meeting between the two in 1999, but then one of the most painful moments in Texas history came about as Texas lost five in a row until Vince Young saved them in the national title run in 2005 and OU had a WR playing QB in the 2006 game. Last year, Oklahoma again came out on top in a hard fought 28-21 game where the outcome was in doubt for most of the ballgame.

So what does that meandering, quick jaunt through the history of Texas/OU tell us?

Youth wins.

Young Wilkinson beat old stodgy Texas. Young Royal turned the tables. Young Switzer did what Royal and his replacement Fred Akers better. Young Stoops beat Mack Brown with fresh new schemes and by being one of the first to use the spread offense which would become a staple in college football in this decade.

Hell, Vince Young turned the tables on Stoops.

Texas fought complacency for a good two years after their national title, until finally the team turned over a new leaf and brought a new attitude to its (what’s up now Drew) Holiday Bowl match-up with Arizona State last year. Texas was the more aggressive team. Texas was the hungrier team. Texas was the angrier team.

So what did the Longhorns do in the off-season? Did they rest on their laurels and pat themselves on the back? Nope.

They fed the fire.

Fiery defensive wizard Will Muschamp was brought in. Legendary fan favorite Major Applewhite was brought back.

A nice injection of youth.

In every Big 12 championship game this decade, Texas or Oklahoma has represented the South, but it is no secret that Oklahoma’s 5-1 edge in Big 12 titles in the Brown/Stoops era eats at the hide of Texas fans.

But ask Oklahoma fans, and they are still nervous about a team that can look so dominating at times, and so beatable at others. Losses to Kansas State, Colorado, TCU and four straight losses in BCS bowl games have Oklahoma fans wondering what the hell is going on in Norman.

2008 appears to be a cross roads in this rivalry. Win this ballgame, and Mack Brown is 4-6 against Bob Stoops, a respectable record given the run that this Sooner team has had. Texas would have also won 3 out of 4 in the series, a nice start to a new streak. Lose, and he’s 3-7 and Texas fans are wondering if 2005 and 2006 were just down years for the Sooners.

So can Muschamp and Applewhite be the duo that turns this rivalry, and by association the Big 12 and the national picture in the favor of the Longhorns?

Muschamp has coached against Stoops one time in his career, in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, where Muschamp’s LSU defense hounded Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jason White into a 13 for 37 passing effort where he threw for 102 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The Sooners also ran the ball 33 times that day, averaging 1.6 yards per rush. Advantage Muschamp.

And Applewhite? Yes, he’s technically the running backs coach at Texas, but he’s also known for taking Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy under his wing and possibly saving his college career. McCoy, who defined the term “sophomore slump” last season, enters this week with legitimate Heisman buzz. As McCoy goes, so do the Longhorns, and this year Texas fans are more than happy to take that and run with it.

But more importantly, Applewhite knows this game. He’s been in a shouting match with the drivers of the Sooner Schooner. He knows what it is like to run down the tunnel and hear boos and then reach the 50 yard line and hear Texas Fight and an eager Texas crowd. He knows that this game turns role players into heroes, and school record setters into goats.

And just like Wilkinson, Royal, Switzer and Stoops before them, Muschamp and Applewhite are damn fine coaches to boot.

In that video above, Vince Young shouts out, “We own the Cotton Bowl,” when in actuality, Texas had lost 6 of 7 games played there to that point in the decade. But, win on Saturday, and Texas will own the Cotton Bowl.


Facebook Status Messages

The University of Wisconsin Band says take the term band nerds and shove it up your…

South Florida is un-invited to the Cinderella Ball.

Ball State is invited to the Cinderella Ball.

Notre Dame is back!
Everyone but Lou Holtz says no you’re not.

Dave Lapham is driving his wife nuts by rehashing the same crap over and over.

Darrell Scott is still insignificant.

Tony Franklin has joined the group Auburn Sucks.

OJ Simpson has canceled the event Acquittal Party ‘08.

On to the games...

Tennessee @ Georgia -12.5:

The Volunteers put up a spirited effort against Illinois last week, winning 13-9…what? Northern Illinois? Seriously?

Tennessee has scored 31 points in the last three games, and Georgia has had two weeks to think about how they were embarrassed on national television by Alabama.

Bet* your house on Georgia, you’re probably going to lose it with all this bank mess anyhow.

* - Make sure you read the last sentence of this column. There is no TWTWB Bailout package

Georgia 31 Tennessee 13
ATS – Georgia
SU – Georgia

LSU @ Florida -6:

Is this line strange to anyone else? Is the Swamp worth like a 10 point home advantage?

Because I think the wrong team is favored here. Maybe Florida wins. Maybe they even win by a touchdown. But this has been a close series (no team has won by more than 13 since 2002), LSU has had two weeks off, and Florida’s offense has been iffy at best and well, LSU’s defense is LSU.

Florida 23 LSU 20
SU – Florida

Penn State -5.5 @ Wisconsin:

Penn State beat Wisconsin by 31 in Happy Valley last year, but this is a different Wisconsin team.

No, they’re really not.

Penn State 31 Wisconsin 17
ATS – Penn State
SU – Penn State

Nebraska @ Texas Tech -21:

The last time Nebraska went to Lubbock, they lost 70-10. Root canal surgeries have been less painful than that.

Nebraska seems to take one step forward and two steps back at every turn the past couple of years. They gave up 52 to Missouri last week, and yeah, it was as bad as it sounds.

Pelini might be the answer, but he’s not the answer this year.
Texas Tech 48 Nebraska 17
ATS – Texas Tech
SU – Texas Tech

Oklahoma State @ Missouri -14:

This has the potential to be what they call a “barnburner.”

Missouri is 2nd in the nation in scoring offense and 3rd in total offense, while Oklahoma State is 3rd in scoring offense and 6th in total offense.

Oklahoma State has a small chance of an upset here (stranger things have happened and OSU has the offense to do it), but OSU needs to beat someone before I start throwing them out as serious contenders.

Missouri 45 Oklahoma State 34
ATS – Oklahoma State
SU – Missouri

Texas v. Oklahoma -6.5:

And here we go.

First you have to look at the quarterbacks. You would think that Texas has the edge here. Colt McCoy is starting his third Red River Shootout game, which is HUGE. McCoy had a good game last year, throwing for 324 yards, 2 touchdowns, but 1 very costly interception. But Sam Bradford didn’t show any freshman jitters at all last year, throwing for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. Like most football games, the quarterback that plays the best will probably be on the winning team.

But the problem for the Horns last year, and one that has the potential to be the biggest problem for them this year, is the running game. The Longhorns have a good running game, statistically, but when your leading running back is rushing for 38 yards a game, you have some problems. Sure, you can beat OU by throwing the ball, but having a back to run down the clock with a lead would be huge.

Oklahoma has their own problems on the ground, however. Demarco Murray has been slow to recover from a knee injury sustained last season, and with the Longhorns only giving up 51 yards a game on the ground, he will be hard pressed to match the 128 yards he gained on the ground last season.

On defense, the Sooners are better statistically, but they haven’t played many offenses with a pulse. Tennessee-Chattanooga (110th in total offense in FCS), Cincinnati (35th in total offense), Washington (105th in total offense), TCU (33rd in total offense) and Baylor (42nd in total offense) won’t strike fear in anyone, but give the Sooners credit for stopping the teams they should stop. The Longhorns still lead the nation in sacks, which will get a good test with an Oklahoma offensive line that many think is the best in the nation.

If it comes down to special teams, you like the Horns’ chances. Oklahoma ranks 102nd in the nation in net punting and have been getting burned on kickoff returns this season.

I hate to be generic football man here, but the Longhorns have to force turnovers. Oklahoma hasn’t lost a fumble since a loss at Texas Tech on November 17, 2007. They have carried the ball 692 times since then. They have to be due, right? In the Texas/OU game, a turnover is tantamount to a score. Keep the pressure on Bradford, a quarterback that is not used to pressure, and see what happens.

The Longhorns have said this week that Muschamp has things that he has kept secret just for the OU game…and unlike other years where Texas coaches have said similar things, I’m expecting it to be good things.

Call it a feeling, call it being a homer, but I see Texas coming out and having a complete ballgame on Saturday which propels guys like McCoy, Shipley and Orakpo to the national stage.

Get your Horns up.

Texas 28 Oklahoma 24
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

Random Hot Dallas Chick

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for chicken fried bacon.

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