It’s a Special Weekend In Dallas
It is a rite of autumn and truly one of the great things about living in DFW. The Texas-Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl (Yes, Texas name goes first because they won last year).
There’s nothing like the scene around the State Fair of Texas. The fans yelling Texas Fight or Boomer Sooner. Nothing like the scene inside the Cotton Bowl with the south end populated by OU fans and the north end by Texas, with the 50-yard line being the dividing line. Nothing like that moment when the teams run through the tunnel before kickoff, and you think of how many great players, coaches and teams have done just that. If you love college football, your hair is standing up right now just thinking about it. If you don’t love college football and get to experience that moment you WILL fall in love right then and there.
Yet this year’s game takes on the oddest of appearances. We’re used to seeing this game with both teams in the Top 5. Certainly in the Top 10, Absolutely both in the Top 25. The bluest of bloods in the game. This week we find the Sooners ranked 20th. Texas is unranked. Both teams owning two losses entering the game for the first time since 1998. Or the year BEFORE Bob Stoops arrived in Norman to begin his historic run that has seen NINE Big 12 titles. Three other trips to the national title game, and a trip, last season to the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Stoops represents consistency, He and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz are presently the two longest serving coaches at their respective schools. But the natives are restless in Norman. Two convincing losses to Houston and Ohio State on the heels of a blowout loss to Clemson in the CFP Playoff last year some wondering has the great man lost his touch. Yet as chaotic as it seems in Norman, even on the heels of nearly blowing 21 point second half lead at TCU last week, they are positively tranquil compared to what’s happening in Austin.
Is Charlie Strong fighting for his job? Depends on who you ask but suffice to say with a 13-16 record in his third season, with a colossal failure on offense last season that led to an early season dismissal of a trusted offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, and a colossal failure on defense this season that led to the demotion of an even more trusted aide in Vance Bedford, it would appear that Strong, so successful in turning around Louisville’s program, is running out of cards to play and people to blame for a lack of success.
He HAS to win this week. But unlike last year, when Strong was bodysurfing on top of delirious players and fans after perhaps the most unlikely upset of the entire college football season, he and Texas would have to follow that up with a huge second half of the season. Last year, two weeks after that win in the Cotton Bowl there was a shutout loss at Iowa State. The year before, after a big OU effort fell just short, two weeks later they were shutout at Kansas State. For all of Mack Brown’s issues in losing to OU, one thing he could always do is get his team to play well in the aftermath and wind up with good seasons. This is what likely will determine Strong’s fate.
But until we get to that point, there’s the matter of this game tomorrow, and by 3:00 there will be one group celebrating in the State Fair and another absorbing the insults and shame as they head home either north or south. It is a rite of autumn. And it is wonderful.