Red River re­match: Texas-OU away from fair for Big 12 ti­tle

Star-Telegram - - Sports - BY STEPHEN HAWKINS AP sports writ­ers Jim Ver­tuno in Austin, Texas; Tom Withers in Cleve­land; and Stephen Whyno in Ash­burn, Va., con­trib­uted to this re­port.

For­mer Texas de­fen­sive end Cory Red­ding would have loved to have an­other shot at Ok­la­homa in his col­lege ca­reer, es­pe­cially in 2001, when the only loss for the Longhorns be­fore the Big 12 cham­pi­onship game was to their Red River ri­val.

But back then, the Big 12 still had 12 teams and two di­vi­sions. There was never the chance for a re­match.

On Satur­day, for the first time in 115 years, the fifthranked Soon­ers (11-1) and the ninth-ranked Longhorns (9-3) will face each other for the se­cond time in the same sea­son. Texas won 48-45 eight weeks ago at the State Fair of Texas, where ev­ery game be­tween the two teams has been played since 1929.

“Re­gard­less of where you put them, even if it’s on a play­ground, it’s go­ing to be the same – a blood­bath,” Red­ding said. “It’s just go­ing to be the na­ture of that game. Noth­ing gets bet­ter than when those teams meet.”

In­stead of Cot­ton Bowl Sta­dium, where pas­sion­ate fans clad in crim­son or burnt orange are split 50-50 for the reg­u­larsea­son games al­ways played on the first or se­cond Satur­day in Oc­to­ber, the Big 12 cham­pi­onship game will be de­cided about 20 miles away at the home of the NFL’s Dal­las Cow­boys.

“You’re play­ing for a cham­pi­onship. To me, that trumps any of this,” Soon­ers coach Lin­coln Ri­ley said. “I do think how im­por­tant of a game it is is maybe go­ing to over­shadow the fact that it is OUTexas a lit­tle bit.”

Or maybe hav­ing a cham­pi­onship on the line (and for the three-time de­fend­ing Big 12 cham­pion Soon­ers the chance to avenge their only loss and maybe get into the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off again) will only add to the bit­ter ri­valry first played in 1900.

“Deep pride. It’s just a lot of that tra­di­tion, the Soon­ers don’t like Texas and the Longhorns don’t like Ok­la­homa,” said Red­ding, who was part of a win over the Soon­ers as a fresh­man in 1999 that was fol­lowed by three con­sec­u­tive losses in the se­ries be­fore his 13-sea­son NFL ca­reer.

Baker May­field, the No. 1 over­all pick by the NFL’s Cleve­land Browns after win­ning the Heis­man Tro­phy last sea­son as the Soon­ers quar­ter­back, won his last two meet­ings against Texas.

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to see it in the Big 12 cham­pi­onship,” May­field said after flash­ing a down­ward “hook ’em horns” hand sig­nal in the Browns locker room this week. “I’m ex­cited to watch it, I’ll just say that.”

Colt McCoy, the Longhorns’ quar­ter­back for their last Big 12 ti­tle in 2009, used the terms “un­be­liev­able” and “amaz­ing” when talk­ing about the re­match. He said as a player he would “just be com­pletely stoked” to be part of such a re­match.

“That tra­di­tion at the Cot­ton Bowl will never change. It’s one of the best venues in foot­ball, best game in foot­ball. I think that you look at this in a dif­fer­ent way,” said McCoy, now the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins quar­ter­back. “This is an op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally go win the Big 12 cham­pi­onship, and it’s against a team that’s one of your big­gest ri­vals.”

Their first ti­tle matchup be­tween the two comes in the 114th game of the se­ries. The game has been played in Dal­las, al­most ex­actly half­way be­tween the Austin and Nor­man cam­puses, since 1912.

Play­ing out­side of Oc­to­ber and away from the Cot­ton Bowl will be dif­fer­ent.

“I was still, I think, like 60 years from be­ing born prob­a­bly the last time it hap­pened,” said Ri­ley, at 35 one of the youngest FBS coaches.

“It’s re­ally weird, I’ve got to be hon­est with you,” Texas coach Tom Her­man said. “We’re talk­ing about 100 years’ worth of play­ing this ri­valry, or close to it, and then all of a sud­den, you’ve got to play them for a cham­pi­onship, too.”

Texas is the only team to hold an all-time se­ries lead against the Soon­ers (6246-5). They have split the last six games, and the last five have been de­cided by a com­bined 25 points.

Red­ding did play two Big 12 ti­tle game re­matches while at Texas, against Ne­braska in 1999 and Colorado in 2001. The Longhorns won the reg­u­lar-sea­son game and lost the re­match both times.

COOPER NEILL AP

Texas tight end An­drew Beck (47) wears the Golden Hat and cel­e­brates with fans after de­feat­ing Ok­la­homa 48-45 on Oct. 6 at the Cot­ton Bowl in Dal­las. No. 5 Ok­la­homa and No. 9 Texas are play­ing in a rare re­match in the Big 12 cham­pi­onship game on Satur­day.

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