Sometimes in this life the greatest opportunity happens to occur within the context of our greatest threats, in the midst of our most powerful fears, where our basic human dignity and integrity are threatened, and our whole concept of who and what we are in this world is challenged.
OU this weekend is such a situation.
We can be somewhat consoled that the greatest gain can come from such risks, although it must be said, this is not a risk we have necessarily chosen but has fallen to us as a function of this season. The truth be told, we would be much more comfortable waiting a month or so. But we have no such luxury at this moment.
The future is upon us, and our duty is clear. We must engage the enemy; there is little choice*. And what little time that remains until our destiny is joined, we must collect and direct our attention to those efforts which will effectively turn the tide our way.
The rest of this post will not reduce our fear. In fact, it will increase it. But of all the things this Texas Longhorn team must do is face their fear, because if they can do that, the future can be theirs. And if they can't, the game is already lost.
*2003 a non-engagement engagement, by all accounts. No hissing.
This is the history of UT versus OU when the Sooners are ranked #! or #2. It's not pretty, but it is instructive. We will be playing a powerful team at the top of their game according to those who observe such feats (pollsters since 1936).
Oklahoma as the #1 ranked team:
Year Rank Winner Tx Coach
2003 Tx #11 OU 65-13 Mack Brown
1987 Tx ur OU 44-9 David McWilliams
1978 Tx #6 OU 31-10 Fred Akers
1963 Tx #2 Tx 28-7 DKRoyal
1957 Tx ur OU 21-7 DKRoyal
1956 Tx ur OU 45-0 Ed Price
1954 Tx #15 OU 14-7 Ed Price
1946 Tx ur Tx 20-3 Dana X. Bible
The toll is 6-2 in OU's favor. AP didn't start until 1936, so this goes back that far.
Oklahoma as the #2 ranked team:
2004 Tx #5 OU 12-0 Mack Brown
2002 Tx #3 OU 35-24 Mack Brown
1985 Tx #17 OU 14-7 Fred Akers
1984 Tx #1 Tie 15-15 Fred Akers
1977 Tx #5 TX 13-6 Fred Akers
1975 Tx #5 OU 24-17 DKRoyal
1974 Tx #17 OU 16-13 DKRoyal
1972 Tx #10 OU 27-0 DKRoyal
1958 Tx #16 Tx 15-14 DKRoyal
The toll is 6-2-1 for an overall of 12-4-1. Your chances against going to heaven are 3-1, historically speaking. Texas is 0-6 vs. OU #1 and #2 since the tie in 1984.
The present era is rather bleak, to say the least.
We've seen Mack bite through the past in 2005. This, however, may present a stronger and more dangerous task. OU is ranked #1 in the AP poll just out tonight. They may have some hype in their position, but 51 votes say they are the top team in the land. There's little ambiguity to cling to. There will be no VY to the rescue.
This game will fall to the Texas defense to keep within reach. If OU is 100% better than any team we have played, that makes 24 points a minimum expectation for the OU offense. So, the question will have to be answered by the offense: How much can they score on OU's defense? 28? 35? 42? Obviously, OU's defense is better than Colorado's, so anything out of the 30s is unrealistic at this point.
In my mind, such that it is, the number one thing OU has going for it is intimidation. The combo of intimidation and a quick start - they are speedy and they take advantage of this quickly, have since Stoops arrived - in the first quarter means that Texas must avoid the lethal start, must control the tempo and not be intimidated from the beginning even if they get behind.
This is a war, not a single battle; the Longhorns must think they belong in that war, on that field, in the fight. And the Horns must think they have the will to win. And no one should take this from them but give them every opportunity to prove this is so.
For an exhibit, I present the 1999 game when Texas fell behind Stoop's first squad, 17-0 in the first quarter and it looked like they were going to be blown out. But a Kris Stockson 46-yard FG started the comeback, two more FGs got it close and Major hit Rayn Nunez with an 11-yard pass and then a two-point conversion to make it 17-17 at the half. Ugly points, but the field was leveled.
In the second half the Horns held OU to a field goal and a late TD while they built a lead behind the running of Hodges Mitchell (216 yard for the day and a TD) and the pass catching of Kwame Cavil and Nunez and four big catches by Montrell Flowers. The second TD pass by Major to Nunez to ice the game saw Major taunting the OU fans and beating his chest. That's the attitude I'm talking about, that I want to see this Saturday. Texas was ranked at #23, OU was unranked; this was not one of the great games but it gives a clue to the state of mind that needs to be on the field.
It is a credit to Colt that he has beaten OU and has played a game that was close enough to have been won. These are strong notches in his leadership abilities. Colt has matured this season before our eyes, and I am completely at ease with him leading this team on this mission, for we are going to ask him to do the almost impossible in the face of history: beat these Sooners.
I wanted to write this before the hype of the week ensues. This will be a busy week for me but OU will never be far from my mind. The opportunity to knock these Okie bastards off their pedestal is a gift that seldom presents itself, but this edition of the Red River Series, without a doubt, is one of those. When the herd starts stampeding one way, there ain't no stopping it. Getting them rollin', rollin', rollin' is the trick.
Hook 'em. And OU still sucks.