This script has been written before heading into the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas. It’s not even original.
Two years ago the Sooners were 5-0 and ranked No. 12 in the nation. Heavy favorites against unranked Texas, the Longhorns spanked OU all day in a 36-20 upset.
Fast forward to this week and the storyline is even more slanted in the favor of the Sooners. OU is back in the top 10 for the first time this season and Texas is coming off a humbling 50-7 loss at the hands of TCU.
Red River Showdown should turn into a bloodbath, right? OU would be wise to learn the lessons from the past. Because those who don’t, as we’re told, are doomed to repeat it.
“Those things (from the 2013 game) will all be brought up,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “But I don’t like to continue to harp on it. Sometimes you talk yourself into something.”
It’s a valid point by Stoops. Bringing it up is one thing, giving a constant reminder to your players about such a down moment doesn’t serve anybody any good going forward.
They say there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal. They don’t get much more battered and bruised than the 1-4 Longhorns squad coming to the Cotton Bowl.
There was optimism abound in a 45-44 loss to California. In one of his first appearances, quarterback Jerrod Heard set the single-game Texas record for yards in a game. Coincidentally, Baker Mayfield had set the same mark for the Sooners just hours before the Longhorns took the field.
The stage looked like it was shaping up for one epic quarterback battle between Heard and Mayfield. Heard hasn’t been able to navigate the Horns to victory since with Texas entering on a three-game losing streak.
“It’s always a game you want to play in as a little kid, and now it’s finally here,” Mayfield said. “Preparation starts now. Even with how they’re playing right now, you can’t go in there and take them lightly. That’s how rivalry games are. We’re going to go in there and give it our best shot.”
Mayfield will be one of several players who weren’t involved in that 2013 disaster. He’ll one of several players who will be making his debut in the OU-Texas lore.
It’s not just players, either. Obviously it’s a new day at OU with assistant coaches Lincoln Riley, Dennis Simmons, Diron Reynolds and Kerry Cooks.
But the thing that has characterized this team is the mix of new blood on the field and on the staff to go with proven leaders with a wealth of experience.
OU’s seniors remember that 2013 game. They weren’t the leaders of the team back then, but they remember that feeling. They’re going to do everything in their power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We know they are moving a little slow, but every year they are ready for us,” senior linebacker captain Eric Striker said. “We can’t sleep on them. That’s one team that you know you have to be ready for – this one.
“It’s a big rival game. They play their best game against us. That’s what you’ve got to expect. We have to come out and be the most physical team and the tougher team and have the mentality to finish.”