Ok­la­homa vs. Texas re­mains one of the grand spec­ta­cles in col­lege foot­ball


Col­lege foot­ball nuts will re­call the early- 2000s ver­sion of the Red River ri­valry. It was so one- sided, so bru­tally Ok­la­homa over Texas, that it could be hard to watch. Then- Sooners coach Bob Stoops be­came a su­per­star as his teams de­stroyed Mack Brown’s Longhorns over five games, from 2000 to 2004, by a com­bined score of 189- 54.

But since then? The Big 12’ s flag­ship pro­grams are a much more palat­able 6- 6 head- to­head. Feel free to look at No. 12 Ok­la­homa vs. Texas ( 2: 30 p. m., ESPN) as a tiebreaker of sorts.

The Sooners ( 4- 1, 1- 1 Big 12), 7 ½ - point fa­vorites, are com­ing off a be­wil­der­ing loss at home to Iowa State. The un­ranked Longhorns ( 3- 2, 2- 0) have played their share of Top 25- wor­thy foot­ball, los­ing in over­time at USC and sur­viv­ing an over­time test last week against dan­ger­ous Kansas State. In between those games, the Longhorns won at Iowa State by 10. So there’s that.

Stoops has de­parted, re­placed by 34- year- old Lin­coln Ri­ley, the youngest head coach in the FBS ranks. Brown is, of course, long gone. For­mer Ohio State of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Tom Herman, like Ri­ley in Year 1, holds the reins.

Yet the spec­ta­cle en­dures. Half the sta­dium in crim­son, the other half in burnt or­ange. And it’s de­light­ful that this game — which seems an ob­vi­ous fit for mas­siveyet- charm­less AT& T Sta­dium in Ar­ling­ton, Texas — con­tin­ues to be played at Cotton Bowl Sta­dium in Dal­las dur­ing the sec­ond week­end of the Texas State Fair.

Some things in this crazy world are just as they ought to be.

‘‘ When you go into one of the most sto­ried ri­val­ries in col­lege foot­ball, if not the most, I think it is im­por­tant that you rec­og­nize that this is a big game for a lot of peo­ple in both states,’’ said Herman, who was a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant un­der Brown in 1999 and 2000.

Ok­la­homa has the Heis­man Tro­phy can­di­date in quar­ter­back Baker May­field, but Texas has the ball- con­trol men­tal­ity and meat- grinder de­fense to give the Sooners fits. Any tiebreaker worth its salt is close and ex­tra tense. Hook ’ Em in an up­set. Five oth­ers: No. 6 TCU - 6 at Kansas State ( 11 a. m., FS1): This is the only real hur­dle for the Horned Frogs

( 5- 0, 2- 0 Big 12) un­til Novem­ber. The Wild­cats ( 3- 2, 1- 1) will grind un­til the end, but the Frogs have more play­mak­ers and lead the con­fer­ence in sacks and fewest sacks al­lowed. TCU, 31- 24. No. 9 Ohio State - 24 at Ne­braska

( 6: 30 p. m., FS1): Qui­etly — which is re­ally odd, con­sid­er­ing the con­stant at­ten­tion paid to Ur­ban Meyer’s pro­gram — the Buck­eyes ( 5- 1, 3- 0 Big Ten) are lead­ing all con­fer­ence teams in to­tal of­fense by more than 100 yards per game. The Huskers ( 3- 3, 2- 1) are mid­dle- of- the- pack on both sides of the ball. It’s not a fair fight. Buck­eyes by 20. Ge­or­gia Tech + 5 ½ at No. 11

Mi­ami ( 2: 30 p. m., Ch. 7): The win­ner of this one will be in su­perb shape in the ACC Coastal. The Yel­low Jack­ets ( 3- 1, 2- 0) are off to an in­sane start in the rush­ing depart­ment, av­er­ag­ing 396 yards on the ground. The Hur­ri­canes ( 4- 0, 2- 0) get their turn in triple- op­tion hell, but coach Mark Richt has a ter­rific team that can with­stand it. Hur­ri­canes by 10. No. 10 Auburn - 7 at LSU

( 2: 30 p. m., Ch. 2): Is it too cute to guar­an­tee a Tigers vic­tory? Hey, it’s a per­fectly good an­nual joke, as far as we’re con­cerned. If you’re con­fused: Both Auburn ( 5- 1, 3- 0 SEC) and LSU ( 4- 2, 1- 1) are the Tigers. ( And if you needed that ex­plained to you, what is your mal­func­tion?) Au­bie keeps it­self in the play­off pic­ture in com­mand­ing fash­ion. Utah + 13 at No. 13 USC ( 7 p. m., Ch. 7): The Utes ( 4- 1, 1- 1 Pac- 12) love a good fight with the Tro­jans ( 5- 1, 3- 1). The Men of Troy are due for a com­plete ef­fort. Fight On, 34- 17. My fa­vorite fa­vorite: No. 7 Wis­con­sin - 16 ½ vs. Pur­due ( 2: 30 p. m., BTN). The Boil­er­mak­ers ( 3- 2, 1- 1 Big Ten) are a pleas­ant sur­prise, but the Bad­gers ( 5- 0, 2- 0) wear them down into sweaty nubs. My fa­vorite un­der­dog: No. 25 Navy + 3 ½ at Mem­phis ( 2: 45 p. m., ESPNU). The Mid­dies ( 5- 0, 3- 0 Amer­i­can) knock the Tigers ( 4- 1, 1- 1) out of the West race. Last week: 7- 2 straight up, 5- 4 against the spread. Sea­son to date: 33- 13 straight up, 24- 22 against the spread. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ SLGreen­berg.


Ok­la­homa coach Lin­coln Ri­ley ( left) and Texas coach Tom Herman are in their first sea­sons at the helm of their schools, but they know what the ri­valry means.

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