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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Texas Football: 

Over the years plenty has been written about the State Fair of Texas and the football game that takes place during its second week.

Texas. Oklahoma. The battle for Red River superiority. A rickity old stadium that splits down the middle between crimson and burnt orange. It may not be college football's greatest rivalry, but then again George Washington may not be America's greatest president. Either way it doesn't take long to get to either one when coming up with a list.

In recent years it's been a springboard game to the BCS. Three times this decade the winner of the Red River Rivalry has advanced to New Orleans, Tempe or Miami, to play for college football's biggest prize. All three times that team was Oklahoma. There will be no fourth in 2005.

Texas will win on Saturday. I don't need to knock on wood or toss salt over my shoulder or hold my breath. Yes, the Horns have dropped five straight to the Sooners, but at noon on Saturday that won't mean a thing. This isn't the same team that peed down their legs when Roy Williams blitzed up the middle, or went through the motions while Quentin Griffin darted toward the end zone.

This is the team that has spent the past eleven months serving notice that the old Mack Brown Longhorns are dead. This is the team that doesn't quit when they trail Oklahoma State by 28; that goes into Lubbock and beats Texas Tech the way a team with no defense and a novelty offense should get beaten; that regroups when things go south on the big stage against Michigan and finds a way to win; and this is the team that goes into the Horseshoe, gives history the finger, and walks out with the deed to the stadium.

Anybody think these Longhorns aren't tough enough to beat Bob Stoops?

The magic isn't gone in Norman, but it's not strong enough to overcome the loss of nine starters to the NFL (or one defensive coordinator to Arizona). Yet Stoops' shine has faded a little bit. Oklahoma's 1-3 perfromance in postseason games the past two seasons raised eyebrows even before TCU and UCLA tag-teamed to bounch OU from the Top 25. And freshman sensation Adrian Peterson has learned that running for 200 yards becomes more difficult when defenses don't have to worry about your Heisman-winning quarterback finding every seam and open spot in the secondary.

Put bluntly OU is not a very good team right now. Texas is a great team right now. Last week the talking heads wondered about a "trap" in Missouri. That net must have had a few holes, because the Horns, as sloppy as they looked, disposed of Mizzou with little ease. They won the way the #2 team in the country should win: convincingly.

How much better than Missouri is Oklahoma? Seriously.

It's a rivalry game, I keep hearing. "Throw the records out the window." That's cliched crap. I expect OU to play their best game, and even if they do it will take a Texas meltdown to make this game a toss-up. OU simply does not have the horses to run with texas on Saturday and no amount of hype, passion or will is going to change that. And the one great equalizer -- coaching -- is no longer a difference-maker. based on everything that's happened since last Oct. 9, can anyone honestly say they'd take what Stoops has done over what Brown has accomplished.

These are two teams going in different directions, and while I fully expect Stoops to right his ship eventually, it's headed into a typhoon Saturday. The Texas defense will key on Peterson and force Rhett Bomar to beat them. Expect Bomar to complete more TD passes to Texas defensive backs than OU wideouts.

Jamaal Charles isn't the drop-off from Cedric Benson that people expected. And anyone that's watched Vince Young play the last ten months knows that he is worlds ahead of where he was the last time he stepped onto the Cotton Bowl's field. Young and Charles will frustrate the Oklahoma defense and as the massive Texas line wears down their opponents Texas' two offensive stars will both see the end zone.

Five years is enough. It's time for revenge.

Texas 37, Oklahoma 16


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