Red River Rivalry Seeing Red
With Texas teams down and an Oklahoma loss, the rivalry game loses a bit of luster
Oct. 4, 2007
By Carter Blackburn
Special to CSTV.com
Carter Blackburn covers various sports for CSTV and writes frequently for CSTV.com.
When folks file in to the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas for this weekend's Texas-Oklahoma game, they will walk past the 52-foot tall Big Tex statue, who has been smiling in most years. Don't be surprised if Big Tex looks a little more downtrodden.
This season has not been kind to Texas college football. As always, it begins with the Longhorns. After nail-biting wins over Arkansas State and UCF, the boys in burnt orange were drilled at home by the same Kansas State team who knocked out their quarterback and their BCS chances a season ago. The state's other bell cow, Texas A&M, was recently throttled by Miami in what Dennis Franchione termed the `exhibition' portion of the season. That comment was presumably not included in the $1,200 top secret E-mails Fran was caught sending to the Aggies' biggest boosters, injury reports and all.
"I can't think of a year when there's been so little fanfare this late in the season," said Spike Dykes, who coached in the Lone Star State from 1959 to 1999. "It is a down year, so far. It's sort of unnerving."
And it's not just Texas' marquee teams who are disappointing thus far. TCU was supposed to be this year's Boise State-style BCS buster. But 34 points allowed to Texas in a half, followed by a loss to Air Force has the Horned Frogs fighting for the Las Vegas Bowl instead of the Fiesta Bowl. This might have been the season SMU cast aside the mid-80s death penalty albatross, but the Ponies stumbled out of the gate with a 1-4 mark. A year after winning their league, Houston is a modest 2-2 with a conference home loss. Texas Tech has only lost once, but that was to Oklahoma State. Mike Leach even lost the post-game press conference when his tirade against his team was upstaged by Mike Gundy's tantrum against a columnist. And of course, there's poor `ol Rice and Baylor. In fairness, UTEP has a winning record and a 1-0 conference mark, but they play in a different time zone.
"It is a little too early to write off the season," cautions Dave Campbell, who has been writing about Texas collegiate football since 1953. "It's one of those years where things haven't gone well for the Texas teams. Eventually they will, but it may be a little too late in the season, or more on to next year."
But of course Texas fans aren't the only ones bemoaning the wreckage of the 2007 college football season. In a season that has featured Appalachian State winning at Michigan, a bad Syracuse team winning at pre-season No. 10 Louisville, and the Fighting Irish's first-ever 0-5 start, there is plenty of agony to go around this season thus far.
"This might just be one of those full moon deals. Everyone might be going crazy," Dykes said. "I looked at the Top 10 in the paper this morning and starting laughing. I mean that out of respect. South Florida,
In recent years, the Red River Rivalry game has propelled both Oklahoma and Texas to national championships. This year, a loss to Colorado has brought the Sooners back to the contender pack, while Texas is on the verge of exiting the Top 25 with a loss in Dallas. Combine a Longhorn loss with B.W.'s famous fried ribs from the fairground, and you could leave Dallas with heartache and heartburn.
"Would certainly put things back in perspective, from a Texas point of view," Campbell said.
And if not, there's always the Cowboys, who are of course, 4-0.