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The SMO: Texas lives rent-free in Kyler Murray’s head

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

And another thing about Mack Brown.

Just kidding. I won’t put you all through that again. Besides, it’s late November and there are bigger fish to fry.

Like a lot of you, I was hoping Texas would get a second shot at West Virginia on Saturday. As Dan Wolken of USA Today noted and as Auburn learned last season, it is very hard to beat a talented team twice in one season. That’s probably why Oklahoma opened on some books as a 9-point favorite for Saturday’s game.

But this game is different. And getting the opportunity to beat Oklahoma twice in the same calendar year? That’s about as motivating as playing for a spot in the CFB Playoff.

A great day for a media relations team in college sports is when it can get through an entire round of interviews without having to douse any fires.

Unfortunately for OU’s media relations team, Sooners’ quarterback Kyler Murray just couldn’t help himself.

Murray went on to say that had he beaten Texas in October, he would have no problem with the post-game handshake.

This — as we kids like to say — is a quarterback who is rattled. He’s rattled that one of his only career losses in the last decade came at the hands of his school’s arch-rival. He’s rattled that Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was the better of two quarterbacks on the field that Saturday in October. He’s rattled that the questions about revenge are coming his way and not vice versa.

Being rattled is not like being motivated.

OU has everything to lose on Saturday and Texas has everything to gain. Murray doesn’t want to go out 0-2 against the Longhorns — and Ehlinger has a natural distaste for Oklahoma in his blood. Ehlinger will play motivated. Murray will play rattled.

Murray is going to try and make plays that aren’t there because he wants to prove himself on Saturday. I like Texas’ chances if that happens.

Texas has relied heavily on young guys this season, but if its going to win on Saturday, it’ll need outstanding play from its upperclassmen.

Guys like Kris Boyd, Brandon Jones, Gary Johnson, Charles Omenihu and Breckyn Hager are going to have to find ways to stop Oklahoma like they did in October. I have full-confidence that they will be ready. Most of them have waited four years to play in a game like this — it’s why they came to Austin.

There is no distraction for Texas. There is no potential playoff berth on the line. Win, and we all go to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. That’s what these guys want. They want it for their teammates, they want it for this fanbase and they want it for themselves. The Sugar Bowl is a lot more fun than Houston in late December.

Seniors will set the tone on Saturday — and I have no doubt they can get it done.

Ehlinger had his first off-game since Labor Day last Saturday in Lawrence — doubling his interception total on the year and throwing some ducks.

I’m chalking it up to a sore shoulder and bad weather.

If there is a guy who needs zero motivation for this game, it’s Ehlinger. I’ll repeat what I said earlier this season:

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.

Add in the extra motivation from Kyler Murray and the fact that Texas is playing as a true underdog with virtually nothing to lose and I like Ehlinger to advance to 2-1 against the Sooners in his career.

Ehlinger also had the perfect rebuttal for Murray’s nonsense yesterday afternoon.

It’s going to be very weird to see this game at AT&T Stadium. The last time Texas played against Oklahoma outside of Dallas, it was on-campus at Clark Field in 1923. This is what it looked like:

This match-up in the Big 12 Championship is Jerry Jone’s fever-dream come to life. There will be a lot pundits who come out afterward and suggest that moving the Red River Rivalry to JerryWorld permanently isn’t a bad idea.

Don’t buy it. This game belongs at the Cotton Bowl forever. Certainly we can meet on occasion for the Big 12 Title, but let’s not make this a regular occurrence — for OU at least.

Texas can make the annual trek up to Dallas twice a year if it includes a Big 12 Championship trip. I don’t mind eating Mi Cocina twice a year.

Texas wins on Saturday on the backs of Tre Watson, Sam Ehlinger, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Kris Boyd, Brandon Jones, Gary Johnson, Charles Omenihu, Chris Nelson, Breckyn Hager, Calvin Anderson, Devin Duvernay, Keontay Ingram, Caden Sterns, PJ Locke and all the other guys who have put so much of their heart and soul into Texas football this season.

I’m as optimistic as they come. Texas will beat Oklahoma on Saturday and win 10 games for the first time in a decade. What an achievement for these seniors who have been through significant coaching changes and big-game disappointments and losing seasons.

That’s about as proud as you can be of Texas football team. We have these seniors to thank for turning Texas football around.

As for the Mack Brown post yesterday, yes I received your thoughts. Via email, Facebook message (bizarre, because this isn’t my real name), Twitter, etc. It was quite an afternoon of reading while stuck in an airport.

A lot of the criticism is fair. Some of it is absurd.

I definitely would change a few things before publishing that again. I do believe the hire is an absolute disaster for a lot reasons (shared here), but I certainly would change the tone of the piece. This was not the correct audience for it and I get that.