OU-Tex tops Week's Schedule
Big 12 Notebook: OU-Texas Tops Week's Schedule
Sooners, Longhorns To Meet In Season's Biggest Matchup
POSTED: 9:05 am CDT October 4, 2004
DALLAS -- Let the hype begin.
Now that everyone has played at least one conference game, the Big 12 can focus its attention on the biggest regular season matchup of the year: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Texas.
Sure there are other league games next weekend, but none will carry the same impact as the Red River Shootout in Dallas.
Saturday's game marks the third time in four years both teams are undefeated and ranked in the top five.
The winner takes a huge step toward winning the South Division and, given the weakened state of the North, will be the conference title favorite.
Then you might as well throw in the Bowl Championship Series and a potential national title run ...
OK, back to the game. Considering how OU flopped late last season, it's best to take 'em one game at a time. Or four.
The Sooners (4-0, 1-0) have owned this series the last four years, making a mockery of the Longhorns and a once-tight rivalry behind scores of 63-14, 14-3, 35-24 and 65-13.
Last year's slaughter may have been the worst for Longhorns fans. Such utter humiliation created fear that Texas (4-0, 1-0) had fallen hopelessly behind the Sooners in talent and - some said - coaching.
That's why Longhorns fans call this year's game Judgment Day, although coach Mack Brown said Sunday it's not so dire for him.
"I've been assured I'm going to keep my job regardless of the outcome of this game," he said.
The winning/losing streak (depending on whether one lives North or South of the Red River) can't go on forever.
"In my opinion, they can't go five," said former Longhorn and current Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Roy Williams.
Williams is probably not the best person to ask. He was on those Texas teams that took four straight beatings.
Williams was on the sideline for Texas' 44-14 win over Baylor and faced questions about what the Longhorns must do to break the losing streak.
"I just don't want bad things to pile up like they do every year," he said, likely referring to a slew of turnovers that the Sooners have turned into a mountain of points.
"We can't let one thing keep leading to another," he said.
A losing streak like this tightens up players and coaches alike. Brown didn't want his players talking about the Sooners even as chants of "Beat OU" rained down on the field Saturday.
All of that can start Monday, Brown said.
"No comment about OU," Texas quarterback Vince Young said after the Baylor game.
At least one Longhorn broke the silence.
"You don't need to remind the guys," said senior wide receiver Tony Jeffery. "They know about the streak and now we can focus on it since it's next on our schedule."
North of the Red River, Oklahoma players and coaches freely admitted they were getting excited.
"It can't get here soon enough because, more than anything, you kinda get tired of waiting for it," coach Bob Stoops said after his team beat Texas Tech 28-13.
"You get kind of anxious," he said. "You want to go play tomorrow."
The Sooners players want to run back onto a Cotton Bowl field they feel like they own.
With about 70,000 crimson and burnt-orange clad fans divided at the 50-yard line, the game has an atmosphere like no other.
"It's going to be a great environment down there," said OU defensive back Brandon Shelby.
"It is a special game," Brown agreed. "It's one of the great games of college football."
While most of the attention will focus on Dallas this week, there are other developing story lines around the league in case that game turns into another rout:
- Texas A&M's resurgence looks like it's for real after beating Kansas State 42-30.
Coach Dennis Franchione warned the rest of the league that Year Two would be better than Year One and he's kept his word so far.
The Aggies (3-1, 1-0) have won three straight after a season-opening loss at No. 11 Utah and are moving closer to cracking the Top 25. They held K-State's mighty-mite running back Darren Sproles to 61 yards rushing.
Keep this up and the Aggies defense might have to call themselves the Wrecking Crew again. At the very least, they could add some spice to the Big 12 South race.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats (2-2, 1-1) look like a shadow of the team that won the Big 12 last season.
- Heisman anyone?
Of the Big 12 players named in the preseason as possible trophy contenders, OU's Jason White and Texas' Cedric Benson are having the best seasons.
White won it last year and on Saturday broke the school career mark with touchdown passes Nos. 54 and 55 for the Sooners.
Benson has rushed for at least 181 yards in four straight games and passed Earl Campbell for No. 2 on the Longhorns career rushing chart with 4,452.
Sproles and Missouri QB Brad Smith were among the early names of potential winners until bad games early doomed those chances.
Sproles has had two subpar games in losses to the Aggies and Fresno State (37 yards). Smith's chances were dashed when Missouri (3-1, 1-0) lost to Troy on the road in the second game of the season.
- Nebraska will see if its new passing game can keep up with the Joneses -- er, Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders (3-2, 1-1) sputtered against the Sooners but will be eager to light up the home scoreboard while showing the Cornhuskers a thing or two about throwing the ball.
Nebraska (3-1, 1-0) is trying to make its new West Coast offense click behind turnover-prone QB Joe Dailey but found it needed running back Cory Ross to carry the Huskers to a win over Kansas.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.