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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Texas Football: The Oklahoma Game 

Week Five: No. 5 Texas (5-0) vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0)
Last Week: Texas 38, Colorado 14; Oklahoma 49, Baylor 17
Last Meeting: (#10) Oklahoma 28, (#19) Texas 21
All-Time Series: Texas leads 57-40-5

It's Texas.

It's OU.

It's the State Fair of Texas; it's the Cotton Bowl, and the expectation of 92,000-plus fans; and it's a battle of Top 5 teams with Heisman Trophy candidates.

Do you really need any more buildup?

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Throw out conventional wisdom; this game will be won by the team that wants it most. A sign hangs in the locker room at Neuhaus-Moncrief center that reads: "The Pride And Winning Tradition Of The University Of Texas Will Not Be Entrusted To The Weak Or The Timid." If everyone on the Texas sideline, coaches and players alike, heeds that message, then the Horns can win this game.

Matt fires up the Texas faithful (and gives a subtle grammar lesson) in The Week that Will Be
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.
Give him some love at his blog

They Said It (the "Texas-Sized" version)...
"We're 26th in the country at rushing, and at the same time, I'm not happy about it. I'm not happy about the consistency. That's my biggest complaint right now"

Greg Davis
Coincidentally enough,
that's also the biggest complaint right now from the thousands of Orangebloods that don't get paid $450,000 per year.
"Greg Davis has coached 40 quarters of Red River Rivalry. At least half of those have been from a fetal position."

Barking Carnival blogger ScipioTex, in his game preview.
As stated before, I'm not the world's biggest critic of Greg Davis. But it doesn't take a "hater" to look at our point totals against the Sooners over the past decade and see that we've often underperformed in this game. From 2000 through 2004 our offense's highest output was 17 points (Rod Babers' interception return in 2004 accounted for 7 of our 24 points), culminating with the program's only shutout in the past three decades in the final of those five games. But even sans Superman the past two seasons, Davis' offense has been good enough to win. So while Scipio's sentiment rings true, it's not indicative of recent years, much less forward-looking.
"Here's an early guess that neither team will run for 100 yards."

Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls
The oft-criticized Bohls seems to pull comments like this from the same place that most message board users pull statistics in their supporting arguments. He may be right this week. Does this faze Coach Youtube?
Stats are for losers. I like winning games

Texas Defensive Coordinator Will "Boom" Muschamp
I guess not.
"We've already been tested by guys like (Baylor quarterback) Robert Griffin and (Washington quarterback Jake) Locker. So yeah, we've been tested and we've responded every time. Colt can do damage with his legs, but we don't plan on allowing him to do that."

Oklahoma DT Adrian Taylor

Robert Griffin has been fun to watch so far and Jake Locker had his moment in the spotlight, but neither of those guys comes close to Colt McCoy in terms of the threat they pose to a defense. In his first two years McCoy turned to his feet mainly when the play broke down. This year the Texas coaches have developed more designed runs for him, so he's not simply getting happy feet. In fact, McCoy's poise has been his biggest strength through five games. Unless Greg Davis turtles this weekend Colt is going to get his yards, regardless of whether or not the Sooner defensive players "plan on allowing him to do that."
"Actually, Tech fans ought to want UT to roll off wins the next three weeks over OU, Mizzou and Oklahoma State. Just imagine how much hype a showdown between the undefeated Horns and Red Raiders would get Nov. 1 in Lubbock. If that scenario unfolds and Tech protects its home turf, we might be talking about the top-ranked Red Raiders."

Dallas Morning News columnist Tim McMahon
, in a piece discussing why Texas Tech and Oklahoma State should cheer for Texas this weekend.
His point is valid: a Texas win, given their remaining schedule, opens up more possibilities for Tech or Oklahoma State to make a run at the division title. Something about that last sentence though, seems to me as unholy as it is unlikely.
"I'll feel all the energy, as the grass shakes beneath my feet."

Longhorns LB Sergio Kindle
I include this for one reason: it reminds me of something the Ultimate Warrior would have said when cutting his pre-match interview back in the heydey of the WWF. And in that vein, wouldn't you love to see those old school WWF-style promos replace the boring pregame/halftime sideline interviews, where a coach basically says nothing of consequence to some softball-lobbing sideline reporter? Give me Brian Orakpo in the locker room with Mene Gene Okerland, going off on a tirade about how much OU sucks, punctuated with: "Whatcha gonna do, brotha, when the largest arms in the Big 12 crash down on YOU, Sooners! YEAAHHHHH!"

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Ahhhh, we are DAYS away from the single best sporting event on this planet. October brings two things: perfect weather and TEXAS Vs. OU!

For Longhorn fans, I believe “Wheeler’s Texas / OU Preview” perfectly describes how we feel. For ANY fan, “The Tunnel”, written by a former Longhorn player, really provides the imagery that we fans will never truly understand.

Now that the Cotton Bowl has expanded to 92,000, I am pretty sure that a few folks on this thread may actually have heart attacks when the Horns take the green field, covered with the giant State of Texas flag, hearing Smokey the Cannon and then “Texas Fight!”.

For the record (I have considered this thoroughly) I believe the teams are too evenly matched to predict a winner. OU supporters will suggest that their pass defense and running games are superior. After close inspection, I am not sure I buy it…they don’t run well either, Murray has lost a step since the injury. As for pass defense, they have competed against only a single team in the top 50 in the nation in passing offense (Cincy).

Texas does not run the ball well either, but we have played 4 teams ranked in the top 50 in passing offense. Stats mean nothing…I am simply suggesting that these teams are evenly matched. Ask Hawkins about our pass D…he went 13 or 33 for 116 yards in a HUGE home game. As is always the case in this game, turnovers and special teams will win it or lose it. Period.

But what fun is it without picking a winner?!

Texas - 31
Land Grabbers - 28

Texas wins on the heels of an absolutely crazed defensive effort, thanks in part to Coach Boom.

Hook ‘em By God!

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Note: Stonie Clark wrote the following last year and I deemed it an instant classic. So as with "Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus," which finds its way into newspapers nationwide each Christmas Eve, I'm reprinting it before every Texas-OU preview I write. If you don't want to head dirctly to the Cotton Bowl immediately after reading it then go sell your tickets to someone not in a coma.

As a 17 year old freshman, I remember guys like Lance Gunn and Peter Gardere standing up in the locker room talking about how big a rivalry Oklahoma was for 'us'. They talked about fans throwing things at you and spitting on you. Little old ladies talking like sailors and giving the horns down sign two inches from your face. I remember thinking, "I just want to play some football. Make a name for myself and these rivalries belong to the school, not me."

By my junior year at UT, I was as much a part of this rivalry game in my heart and soul as any Longhorn before me and was about to become associated with it for the rest of my life.

1994. Cotton Bowl. Red River Rivalry. 17-10 Texas. 4th and Goal. Ball on the Texas 1 yard line. I had heard the stories of Peter the Great. Cash, with the one handed touchdown catch. Bubba Jacques scooping up a fumble and returning it for a touchdown in a tight TX-OU game. When the center snapped the ball, their line zone blocked right. It was we refer to as a misdirection play. I was able to see Thompson handing the ball to James Allen on a statue of liberty play. Immediately I changed direction and headed toward the ball carrier. My teammate, Robert Reed had forced James Allen back inside and as he reached for the endzone, I hit him. It was a trainwreck. That God for making me a train. I rolled about 340 at the time and being run over was never a concern of mine. In some of the pictues of the play, my feet were actually in the endzone when I made contact. The hit was pure and the celebration started.

Cotton Spryer. Peter the Great. Bubba Jacques. Kerry Cash... Stonie Clark.

We all see Oklahoma has some vulnerabilities, and hopefully this week our coaching staff was able to identify some of those and put together a game plan that puts our guys in a position to win. That's all that can really be asked of the coaching staff. The rest has to be the guys wanting to be great. Wanting to be remembered. Have they dreamed and visualized making plays in this game? Do they want it so badly that the tears stream from their faces as they walk down the tunnel? Are they screaming inside because of the liquid fire running through their veins and up their spine? Folks, I save exaggerations for more important things like penis size and what age I actually was when I started losing my hair. This is real. This is TX-OU.

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

Unless Mizzou flattens Oklahoma State this weekend in their battle of big-time WRs (Jeremy Maclin v. Dez Bryant), Texas will play their next four games against ranked opponents (#1 Oklahoma, #2 Mizzou, #17 Oklahoma State, #7 Texas Tech). Texas has not played four straight games against ranked opponents during Mack Brown's tenure.

Brown's Texas teams have played three consecutive ranked teams only twice before:

L- #2 Oklahoma
W- #17 Kansas State
W- #17 Iowa State

L- #24 A&M
L- #3 Nebraska
L- #24 Arkansas

You would need to go back to 1979 to find a stretch this brutal in a Longhorns schedule. In a seven-week span Fred Akers' team faced the following:

W- #5 Mizzou
W- Rice
W- #3 Oklahoma
L- #10 Arkansas
W- Texas Tech
W- #5 Houston

I took all data from Mack Brown-Texas Football, which reflects rankings at the time the game took place, not where the teams ultimately finished.

The Things I think About

Since the time I arrived at work on Monday morning I've thought about on thing only: this game.

By the way, it's now 8:50 AM on Thursday morning and OU still sucks.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

I took a day trip with a large group of friends earlier this year to the Texas Hill Country to visit a handful of wineries. It was enjoyable, being that we spent the entire day drinking and that we also travelled in one of those sweet stretch Hummers. It was less-than-enjoyable, however, when the subject turned to National Signing day, which loomed the following week. At the time reports indicated that super-stud Darrell Scott would likely spurn the Horns for Colorado (he ultimately did), and the coupld of Sooner fans on board cackled with delight as they proclaimed that Mack Brown could no longer even earn recruiting accolades. They continued to bash the Horns and talk about how ugly this game could get. Almost eight months later, Sooner fans continue to hold little doubt that they're going to emerge unscathed this weekend. If for no other reason, I'd like Texas to win this weekend so that when we once again venture out to the Hill Country I can reply to their Sooner ramblings with two two-word responses: "OU Sucks" and "Scoreboard, bitches."

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
Sherman McMasters: Where is he?
Doc Holliday: Down by the creek, walking on water.
Wyatt Earp did the unthinkable in the lead-up to this exchange, charging the Cowboys, who had him pinned down in a cross-fire, and mowing them down. It was the act of a man that knew he would make something happen or die trying. It was heroic. This weekend we just need someone - Colt McCoy? Jordan Shipley? Cody Johnson? - to step up and make something happen. This is Texas-OU, where heroes are born.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

I don't give Sooner fans credit for much, but even despite their annoying, fate-tempting overconfidence, and their general disregard for the fact that their team owes much of its historical success to rampant cheating, they use Photoshop quite well, as evidenced below (from the College Gameday Signs thread at Soonerfans.com):

How about an SAT-style analogy?

Brian Robison : Rhett Bomar :: Brian Orakpo : Sam Bradford

Prediction: I bypass the chicken fried bacon (and the ensuing triple bypass) for corny dogs and maybe a fried grilled cheese sandwich.



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