Obligatory reminder: The SMO does not deal in logic or reason. It does not care about facts or figures. It is an emotional overreaction to the preceding game.
The emotional roller coaster that is Texas football has never been more on-brand than this past Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
The Longhorns appeared dominant in the first half — but made enough mistakes to keep Kansas State within striking distance. Missed opportunities left Texas out of the end zone on more than one occasion.
A 19-0 halftime lead — a lead that felt like it should be 31-0 — disappeared in the second half due to a resurgence by Kansas State in the passing game after a quarterback switch.
That was when the fear crept back in. The fear Texas fans know all too well.
“Oh my God. Not again. Please don’t blow it again.”
Texas didn’t blow it. The offense commanded the final drive — converting multiple first down and refusing to give the Wildcats a shot.
At the end of the day, Texas beat Kansas State in Manhattan for the first time in 16 years. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Burn the tape. Texas is 4-1 and heading into the biggest Red River Showdown of the last decade.
OK, now on to what’s important. It’s Texas-OU week.
For many of us lifelong Texas fans, just saying the name Oklahoma makes us cringe.
The feeling I get when someone tells me they graduated from Oklahoma is the same feeling I get when someone tells me they grew up in Florida. Immediately, I know something is probably a bit off.
Now I’m not saying Oklahoma isn’t a good school — it isn’t — but that’s not what I’m trying to say. It’s just been ingrained in my life since early childhood that Oklahoma football represents everything wrong with, well, everything.
You certainly didn’t have to like him, but I did respect Baker Mayfield while he was at Oklahoma for his pure hatred of Texas — a school that paid no attention to him while he was playing high school football in Mack Brown’s backyard. For big games, that extra motivation is meaningful.
That same hatred you and I have for Oklahoma? Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger has felt it his whole life.
Ehlinger is just like you and me, he’s just way better at football than us.
That’s why this week, there is no other quarterback in college football I’d rather have starting for the Longhorns than Ehlinger. This is more than a game to him.
Surrounding Ehlinger is the strongest unit of offensive weapons I’ve seen on the Texas campus in quite a long time. Guys like Keaontay Ingram, Tre Watson, Collin Johnson, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Devin Duvernay — paired with the most competent offensive line Texas has seen in a few years — will absolutely be able to score on Oklahoma.
Defensively, I think there are clear weaknesses that the Sooners can expose.
If there was ever a time for Kris Boyd and PJ Locke to live up to the hype, it’s this Saturday.
Herman mentioned during his press availability Monday that Texas would need its front four to get pressure on Murray without overloading the blitz and leaving the defensive backs exposed. Breckyn Hager, whose early season disappointments are similar to Boyd’s, can change the narrative around his senior season on Saturday by establishing that pressure.
Linebacker Gary Johnson — who has become a household name for Texas fans — can become a household name for all college football fans if he plays like he did against Southern Cal three weeks ago. Stopping the run against the league’s second-best rushing offense will be critical.
If Kyler Murray is going to beat Texas, make him do it with his arm.
Herman has said it before. When Texas plays at its best, it can compete with any team in the country — but it’s not yet at the point where it can play an off-game and win against good teams.
We saw that in the second half on Saturday — when Texas almost blew a 19-point lead against Kansas State.
The good news for Texas fans: There is no bigger game than this. There is no bigger stage than this. This game can’t possibly be overhyped. With ESPN’s College GameDay on site, Texas and Oklahoma are meeting in Dallas with national championship implications on the line.
There is no need for extra motivation.
This is Texas. This is Oklahoma. This is college football’s greatest rivalry game. And for the first time in a decade, it means something.
If you aren’t ready to run through a wall on Saturday morning, there is a school 90 miles east that isn’t all that interested in rivalry games either. I’m sure they’ll let you join their moral victory sing-a-longs.
When Texas beats Oklahoma on Saturday — and Texas will do this because Ehlinger will refuse to lose this game — the narrative around Texas football changes. The shift back into national relevancy begins.
There has not been a bigger college football game for Texas fans since the national title games in 2006 and 2010. The iron is hot. Strike.
My final gift to you Texas fans is an important one: Since 2005, I have been in Dallas for multiple Texas-OU games, but I’ve only ever seen Texas win twice.
This Saturday, as an offering to both you — the Texas fans — and to the football Gods, I will not be in Dallas. I will not be in Texas. I will not even be in the United States.
I will be attempting to stream the game from the quiet, pristine beaches of Tulum, Mex. The last time I even missed a single snap of Texas-OU was in 2015, when the Texas Longhorns dropped the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners, 24-17.
I hope my sacrifice is not in vain.
Texas 28, Oklahoma 20. It’s 1:35 p.m. and OU sucks.