March 2, 2024

Red River Rivalry lacking national appeal in week six

Texas Longhorns Football

(Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

It’s one of the most storied rivalries in all of College football, that annually lures in millions of viewers across the country.

The Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas packs tradition, passion and hate. After all, the clash is between two blueblood programs, which have combined for a jaw-dropping, 11 National Titles and nine Heisman Trophy winners.

The magnitude of the matchup is comparable to Michigan against Ohio State, or the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise why all eyes are on the Cotton Bowl when the Longhorns and Sooners battle in Dallas during the second Saturday of October.

However, this fall both teams are in a slump, with two losses apiece. Not to mention it will be the first time since 1998 that neither team is ranked in the AP Poll heading into the game. The Sooners are 0-2 in Big 12 play for second time in the last three years. The Longhorns are approaching the rivalry with two losses for the first time since 2017.

Oklahoma’s Brent Venables desperately needs his first Big 12 victory. Meanwhile Texas’ Steve Sarkisian has lost eight of his last 12 games overall. It’s mind-boggling that both teams are currently in the bottom four of the Big 12 standings.

On top of that it’s still unclear if the starting signal-callers will be back in the lineup. Quinn Ewers has missed Texas’ last three games after he suffered a joint sprain injury against Alabama. Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel appeared to have a head injury after a late hit by a TCU defender that knocked him out of last week’s game.

Sophomore Hudson Card has held down the Longhorns’ offense during Ewers’ absence. He has thrown for 741 yards, six touchdowns and an interception over the last three games. Junior Davis Beville only completed seven of his 16 passes against the Horned Frogs. The former Pittsburgh Panther will have to throw the ball more if he starts against the Longhorns.

Regardless of the matter, the rivalry still has some star power. The headliner is Texas’ All-American running back Bijan Robinson. He has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards over the past three games. Robinson is also second in the league with eight touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore wideout Xavier Worthy has hauled in three touchdown passes over the Longhorns’ last two contests.

The Sooners have a dynamic running back tandem in senior Eric Gray and true freshman Jovantae Barnes. Gray rushed over 100 yards against UTEP, Nebraska and Kansas State. Barnes steamrolled for a season-high, 100 yards and two scores at TCU. Junior Marvin Mims is Oklahoma’s go-to receiver, who’s All-Big 12 caliber.

Both defenses have been a major disappointment thus far in 2022. Texas currently ranks 63rd in the FBS in total defense, but is 90th in passing yards allowed per game. Oklahoma is dead last in the Big 12 and 109th in the country in total defense. The Sooners have allowed 423 yards per game, which is a head-scratcher, because Venables supposed to be a defensive genius.

Which is why the College football world is anticipating another offensive shootout in this series. And the offense that possesses the ball last will likely win the game.

Although the glory days of the Red River Rivalry between Bob Stoops and Mack Brown are in the rearview mirror, this game never falls short on entertainment.

Despite having no Playoff implications, both squads still can make a run at the Big 12 Title with a victory Saturday, and that’s more than enough to keep both fan bases dialed in on the matchup.