Resetting the OU Texas Rivalry
There are so many new variables to this year's annual "Red River Showdown" between No. 12 Oklahoma (4-1) and Texas (3-2). One side has so much to lose while the other has everything to gain. Plus this matchup features two new head coaches for the first time since 1947. There's also a new quarterback (probably), and a chance to set the tone of this new coaching era.
As Oklahoma fifth-year senior linebacker Obo Okoronkwo explained to reporters what he'll be telling the rest of the Sooners locker room this week, "This game is going to define the rest of our season."
And Okoronkwo is right. It would be a virtual impossibility at this point for a 2-loss team to make the College Football Playoff. Those are the stakes for OU.
But let's take a look at this rivalry from the Texas side. Only three players on the entire team have experienced a winning season. So right now, this is the Longhorns' biggest game by default.
"I haven't been to a bowl game or anything," admitted Longhorns junior running back Chris Warren III. "[Red River Showdown] is definitely the closest thing to it; And the closest thing to a national championship I've been around."
Not to mention, these are two teams trending in opposite directions. The previously third-ranked Sooners were stunned at home last weekend against Iowa State. And the Longhorns are soaring after a come-from-behind overtime win against Kansas State.
"In the past, after a tough loss, we haven't had too many around here, but when we've had them, we've been able to respond regardless of who we played," said first-year Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. "So I would hope we would have enough pride, and I feel that we do."
If any recent trends in this series notably favor OU, it's the experience under center. This matchup featured one new starting quarterback 10 times during the Bob Stoops era. The "Red River" newbie lost 9 of those. The one exception was for Oklahoma and Sam Bradford in 2007.
Texas will likely start true freshman Sam Ehlinger who has gone 3-1 in place of injured Shane Buechele. "[Kansas State]was a big game for him," said Texas junior linebacker Malik Jefferson. "[Ehlinger] knew how critical it was. And he understands this is a big game. This is a tradition game."
Unfortunately for the Sooners, this trend no longer applies considering it's now under the direction Lincoln Riley. So historic trends like that have to be set aside once more.
"It's in our own control," said OU senior quarterback Baker Mayfield.
"It doesn't matter what anyone else does. If we win out and take care of our business, I have all the confidence in the world we can end up in the playoffs."