Luckily for Jones, this is not his first rodeo at the Texas State Fair. He saw the majority of the action in last year's 16-13 loss following Bradford's collegiate career-ending injury. That unexpected experience has prepared Jones for the rivalry game during his first full year as the starter and may give him the slight advantage over Gilbert.
"[Playing in last year's game] made it a little an advantage just being able to play like that, but he's a great player; he's going to do fine," Jones said.
Jones did not play horribly in last year's game at the Cotton Bowl, he completed 24-of-43 passes for 250 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but he wishes he could have produced better results.
"You think about it sometimes," Jones said. "Obviously, I'd like to play better than I did and hopefully this year I prepare a little bit better in practice and have a little bit better performance.
One way Jones can play better is if he avoids throwing interceptions in critical moments of the game. He threw two interceptions late in the fourth quarter last year, both of which ended any hopes the Sooners had to win.
"You can't turn the ball over back-to-back in the Cotton Bowl and expect to win the game," Jones said. "I remember those plays. You usually remember the interceptions. Those usually get burned into your memory."
Gilbert watched last year's game from the sideline, but like Jones he was thrown into the spotlight when his starting quarterback went down with an injury during last season's national title game against Alabama. Being called upon to perform in that kind of situation abruptly is something Jones said he can relate to.
"Mine was in the season opener, but his was in the national championship game, so I'm sure he had a little bit more pressure on him than I did," Jones said. "So, yeah, I know where he's coming from and his might have been on a bigger scale than mine but I kind of know where he's coming from."
Gilbert struggled early in the title game but gained composure in the second half in time to almost mount a comeback.
But Gilbert has not built upon that late-game success. He has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns and is averaging 221.2 yards per game, which is less than McCoy's 303.1 yards-per-game average during his career at Texas.
If Gilbert does not play better, then his first start in the Red River Rivalry will be one he would like to forget.