Texas and Oklahoma will meet for the 104th time this Saturday in the annual Red River Shootout (now called Rivalry, but I think the Shootout title is much more appropriate).
The history of the rivalry is as illustrious as the programs themselves, and the resentment between them is as fervid as any major rivalry in sports.
Given the current top-tier status of the two programs and the fact that they reside in the same division, which coincidentally gives the winner of the game an inside track to the conference and oftentimes national championship, coupled with the way the season played out for both at the end of last year, and it's plainly obvious to discern why the animosity is at an all-time high.
If you recall, Texas beat Oklahoma in the game last year; the Horns later lost to Texas Tech on a last second touchdown in Lubbock, resulting in a three-way tie between Texas, Oklahoma, and Tech.
In the tiebreaker formula used by the Big 12, the team that was slated highest in the BCS rankings, Oklahoma, advanced to the Big 12 championship and subsequently the national title game.
All of this was much to the chagrin of the UT faithful, who had watched their Longhorns defeat the same Sooner squad by 10 points on a neutral field just weeks before.
Given these strenuous circumstances, fans must think it queer to hear that Bradford and McCoy, the indubitable faces of the two programs, are, in fact, the best of friends.
Says McCoy, "From a fan's perspective, they are thinking, 'What are they doing? They can't be friends.'"
Indeed, it would appear to be so, but only on the surface. When you analyze the true configuration of these two great QBs, there are actually some very striking and intriguing similarities.
"We have a lot in common," McCoy said. "We both went to small schools, played every sport, weren't heavily recruited. We both went to the big state schools we grew up watching."
The similarities don't end there. They both have led their teams to BCS bowl games, both have been invited to New York to the Heisman ceremony, both have bright NFL futures, and both worked as counselors in the Manning Passing Academy, where they were "randomly" assigned as roommates.
Their respect and admiration for each other grew with the time spent at the academy, and both have received high praise from the other.
“Colt has all the tools to be a tremendous quarterback,” Bradford described McCoy. “Fast with his feet. When he doesn’t have time, he can make something, and when he does, he can pick you apart.
Reciprocally, McCoy has gone on the record to say of Bradford, “Sam is a great quarterback, he does a great job faking, he doesn’t make mistakes, knows where he is going all the time.”
Before the season started, these two larger than life stars were expected to meet in Dallas both ranked in the top five with national and conference title aspirations on the line. The season for OU took a big turn when Bradford went down to injury, however, and they have since slipped and lost two key OOC games by a combined two points.
While the national title game may be out of reach for the Sooners, there is still hope for a conference title, making it their fourth in a row if it were to materialize.
With Sam Bradford back and healthy, the contest should once again be one of the more entertaining games of the season. After all, it is reasonable to speculate that had Bradford been healthy, they could be sitting right where the Longhorns are: 5-0 with a chance to play for all the marbles, something the Sooners would love to spoil come Saturday.
So Sam and Colt will take the field, each with their own momentous programs on their shoulders. While they will compete like crazy to bring home the golden hat for their teams, the bond they have created on the opposite ends of the spectrum will endure long after the final whistle has blown.
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