Here is the deal in a nutshell: when Texas goes to Dallas and plays Oklahoma, it's played (and more often than not, beaten) a team with just as much or more talent than on the Longhorn sideline. With a win in the Cotton Bowl over the Sooners, only then are you part of a Longhorn team that is remembered and has a chance to be great.
Because the atmosphere doesn't change from year to year -- and let's hope it doesn't change in 2011 after the current contract with the State Fair expires -- with the half-and-half fan support, the game has a magical quality.
And it was certainly magical in 2006. This was the statement game for Colt McCoy.
Forget that his arm is not a laser or that he can't run like Chase Daniel of Missouri. What's inside of Colt McCoy came to the surface in the second half in Dallas, and that is the big story of this game.
One play in the first quarter showed the results of a year and a half of taking snaps at Texas, even though some of it was scout team duty in his redshirt year.
On third-and-10 from the Sooner 37, McCoy scrambled left getting away from a heavy rush, turned near the Oklahoma bench and threw a strike to Quan Cosby who broke off his route to come back to the quarterback's rescue. It was good for 16 yards and brought the Longhorn side of the stadium to its feet.
But the second quarter reminded me of the Sept. 9 back in Austin. It was an Ohio State flashback, allowing the Sooners to take over the momentum.
Adrian Peterson made a broken-tackle 29-yard run for a touchdown and with Texas stuck in second gear, Oklahoma got a field goal with just four seconds left in the half to take a 10-7 lead up the Tunnel.
I could feel what was happening all the way up to row 5, section 123, seat 19 in the upper deck of the Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma would come back with Peterson and those deadly play action one receiver routes, which it looked like the Texas secondary had no answer.
In my opinion, the Sooner defensive front was better than Ohio State's front and the apparent talent in the secondary still favored Oklahoma. I wasn't ready to put Jevan Snead in the game, but it crossed my mind.
What really concerned me was that every time Peterson touched the ball, he was getting closer and closer to daylight, and it was hot and the Texas offense couldn't hold the ball. Trouble.
But instead of trouble, Mack Brown's Longhorns played the finest half of his coaching career at Texas.
Brian Robison, Tim Crowder, Roy Miller, Rashad Bobino and Robert Killebrew teamed up with a lock down secondary and shut out the Sooners after the break. Alternate defensive end Aaron Lewis had an unassisted stop on Peterson right in front of the Sooner bench.
I thought last week against Sam Houston the physical nature of the Texas defense was back. Saturday, the Horns proved that it was!
I thought Limas Sweed was less than full speed in the first half but his switch flipped on when McCoy spotted single coverage on a Sooner blitz and lofted a beautiful 33-yard pass to the streaking Sweed down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown early in the second half.
McCoy showed it was no fluke on his part by arcing a pass to Jordan Shipley in the corner of the right end zone full of delirious Texas fans for a 21-10 lead.
What you didn't see on TV was Bob Stoops' meltdown at the officials and his bewildered demeanor after the backward pass off Adrian Peterson's shoulders was picked up by Aaron Ross and run in for a game-clinching touchdown. For five of the last seven years, Stoops had been college football's answer to Vince Lombardi at the Cotton Bowl. But losing coaches look alike, and he's had that look for two straight years. Rhett Bomar's situation helped change the image. Bomar could well have been the difference in a game like this. Instead, the Texas redshirt freshman quarterback from 2A Jim Ned High School earned his spurs with a victory over Oklahoma.
Several of my buddies thought I had been too hard in my evaluation of McCoy, Greg Davis and Mack Brown leading up to this game. I make no apologies; with a great offensive line, excellent running backs and what could be one of the Longhorns' best defensive teams, I didn't like what I saw at the quarterback spot at Texas.
I was looking for positive evidence against a big time defense that Colt McCoy was the correct choice at quarterback. Along with 76,260 in the Cotton Bowl and several million on TV, I got it Saturday.
Like Bobby Layne, Duke Carlisle and James Street, Vince Young is history. This is Colt McCoy's time and I am ready for the rest of the season!
Baylor will find out how good this Longhorn team is. Texas 31, Baylor 7.
Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.