It’s not "Ohio State vs. Michigan" or "Army vs. Navy." This Saturday in Dallas, Texas, at the “Cotton Bowl” the “Red River Rivalry” takes place, which pits the (4-0) Oklahoma Sooners against the (3-1) Texas Longhorns.
The Rivalry started in 1900, and has caught fire since then. If you have ever been around fans of both teams when it’s kickoff time, you will know what I am talking about. If you have not, imagine locking a republican and a democrat in the same room and making them watch highlights of one another’s speeches. Now, I know Ohio State fans and Michigan fans will make cases for their teams, but in the last 10 years this rivalry has produced a national title game participant six times! So, G.T.F.O!
When we look at a rivalry, what do we want to see? We want to see no love for the other side, passion, hard hits, close games, and championships.
No Love for the Other Side
Say what you will, but there is pure hatred in this game; mostly because of the fans. The ticket sales are divided equally between the teams, the fans are then split at the 50-yard line, and security has to be tight-knit due to the unruly nature of the game.
I have seen on television times when Oklahoma isn’t even playing Texas and the upside down “Hook 'em Horns” sign is flashed constantly. So as not to be outdone, however, I have heard Texas fans, while playing non-conference opponents, screaming “OU SUCKS!” at the top of their lungs.
(The Hook 'em Horns sign, which celebrates Texas requires you to take your middle and ring fingers bent down with your thumb holding them. You then make sure your index and pinkie fingers are straight up. To boo Texas you do the same but hold your hands upside down.)
The fans definitely have the passion, but the players take this game to heart as well as the coaches; they know what the implications could be. This rivalry has brought out the best in superstar-caliber players such as OU RB Adrian Peterson, who in the series, showed the national audience what a truly prolific player he can be.
Texas RB Ricky Williams also had great flashes in his appearances in Dallas where in three years he accumulated 465 rushing yards, 136 receiving yards, and five TDs. How about Texas RB Earl Campbell, or OU safety Roy Williams, who both made their mark in both the rivalry game and the pros? Check out Roy Williams' game-saving hit on Texas QB Chris Simms.
Hard hits in this rivalry are definitely smiled upon. In fact if you don’t hit hard, you are quickly shunned by fans in this atmosphere. If the hit above wasn’t enough to make you believe, check out this hit by Texas DT/nose guard Stonie Clark, in a play that will forever be known as “The Stone Cold Stop."
As mentioned above, the last three games at the “Cotton Bowl” have been decided by 10 points or less. Expect this year's game to be no different. Close games breed rivalries. Sure you get your blowouts here and there, but for the most part, this is a smash-mouth, Goliath vs. Goliath battle.
In 2000, the Sooners won the national championship. Although they blew Texas out that year, it was considered a gauge on whether or not they were fit for the national title game. In 2005, it was much of the same story for the Longhorns, who blew out Oklahoma to help earn their way to a BCS National Championship. Other notable years include, OU in 2003, 2004, and 2008, and of course, Texas last year in 2009.
When voted on by the coaches, the “Red River Rivalry” was put behind "Michigan vs. Ohio State" and "Army vs. Navy," however I would gladly tell those coaches to...