Traditions and pageantry are what make college football the greatest sport in the world. However, conference realignment has presented some challenges to long-standing college football traditions. Texas no longer faces Texas A&M. And, it’s pretty clear that the Texas legislature has no interest in that happening anytime soon. Although it may be true that they have scheduled a home and home series, Oklahoma and Nebraska not playing put an end to one of the best rivalries in college football. Thankfully, the annual tilt between Oklahoma and Texas has not changed. Today, we look at why Oklahoma vs Texas should never change.
Oklahoma vs Texas Yearly Traditions
For anyone that’s attended the rivalry game in Dallas knows this game is unlike any others. The countless number of the weekend, venue, pregame, and in-game traditions is what gives this rivalry the notoriety that it deserves. The long list of uniqueness to this rivalry is why everything should remain the same when Oklahoma meets Texas each year.
Most bitter rivals can’t agree on much, but these two states take it to another level. However, it goes even further than the fan bases. First, if you’re from Oklahoma it’s referred to as Oklahoma vs Texas. But, if you’re a Texas fan it’s Texas vs Oklahoma. Interesting to note, even the sponsors can’t seem to agree on a name. Over the last few years, it has been named the Red River Showdown. Nicknames such as the Red River Shootout, the Red River Classic or even the ever-popular Red River Rivalry.
There’s no better place to start than with the venue of this spectacular contest. Each year since 1932 the game has been played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas with the Texas State Fair as the backdrop. Now, the stadium currently holds just over 92,000 fans. But, that’s not all that get into the action. Typically, there are another 100-150,000 fans at the fair during the game to take part in the festivities.
The most interesting part of the venue has to be the way that the stadium is split. Split being the operative word. As if these two teams needed to be split anymore, the seating chart does just that. From the 50-yard wrapped around the end zone to the other side of the 50, there is complete crimson and creme. Then, on the other side is totally burnt orange.
Everything is bigger in Texas, they say. And, so is all of the pregame festivities for this rivalry game. First, as you make your way through the state fair everyone stops to look and take pictures with Big Tex. Big Tex is a 50+ foot tall statue at the center of that state fair. It’s traditionally served as an easy meeting destination for Sooner and Longhorn fans alike.
Both the Oklahoma and Texas team bus arrives at the Cotton Bowl about two hours before kickoff. Normally, this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. However, watching each bus navigate through the fair crowd is an interesting experience. More than that, no matter if it’s Kyler Murray or Sam Ehlinger or even the assistant equipment manager the boo’s and cheers can be heard across the fairgrounds.
The Tunnel Experience is one thing that most ex-players remember well. The unique part of this experience is that both teams come filtering out of the same tunnel onto the Cotton Bowl. This quote seems to do it justice. “You feel the world shake and start to understand why every Longhorn or Sooner who has taken these steps before you can never seem to find the exact words necessary to convey what has just happened. You’ve just run down the tunnel at the OU-Texas game — generally regarded as one of the greatest moments a college football player can experience.” – Mark Wangrin, ESPN.com.
This series began in 1900. The first meeting was won by Texas with a score of 28-2. Although Texas leads the overall series by a count of 61-46-5, the rivalry has always been highly contested over the years. The Sooners own the largest margin of victory with a 65-13 win in 2003. However, the Longhorns hold the longest winning streak with eight consecutive both from 1940-1947 and also from 1958-1965. The current winning streak is at two games which are owned by the Sooners.
Locally, this fierce rivalry has been everything that Oklahomans and Texans would expect. But, on the national scene, the game hasn’t received the notoriety that it garnered in the 2000’s. Now, this season that has all changed with both team ranked in the top 25 since 2012. ESPN’s College Gameday has announced that it will be live from the Cotton Bowl for this seasons game. It will mark the first time that the show has been live from the Red River Showdown since 2011. FOX has the broadcast rights for this game and they have decided to also take their show on the road. Analysts Matt Leinart, Robert Smith, Dave Wannstedt will join host Rob Stone live outside of the Cotton Bowl.
You ready, Dallas?
Next up, we’re headed to the State Fair for the Red River Rivalry! pic.twitter.com/VwdTl6H1Em
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 30, 2018
The Red River Rivalry game is scheduled to remain at the Cotton Bowl through the 2025 season. The climate of college football is always changing. There’s always the question as to whether the Big 12 will be intact by that time. And, if there was additional realignment, would the Sooners and the Longhorns still remain affiliated with the same conference? The uniqueness of this rivalry is only matched in the Georgia vs Florida matchup and the Army vs Navy game in terms of the neutral site aspect of the game. But, with the added aspect of the equal split of the crowd with the State Fair backdrop and the Cotton Bowl in the middle of it, this game stands on its own. Let’s do the right thing here, college football. Don’t change a thing about this game!