The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns have actually met in Norman, Austin, Houston and Oklahoma City since the advent of each football program, but for nearly 90 years, the Red River Shootout (or Rivalry or Showdown) has been played at one venue and one venue only. That, of course, is the Cotton Bowl inside the State Fair of Texas, which has long been hallowed ground for the two fan bases. Few things hold greater significance in OU lore than the annual game in Dallas, and the same can be said for the revelry surrounding it.
Everyone has an OU-Texas story. Most of us have several or even dozens, actually, and many of them are embarrassing, explicit or just plain stupid in nature. Plenty of us have been stricken with the “Red River Flu”, and sometimes the cases are severe enough to prevent us from making it to the fairgrounds in time for an 11 a.m. kickoff. Throngs of decent and otherwise upright citizens are thrown into the drunk tank every year. A large chunk of the 18-35 demographic has destroyed property at the Downtown Adam’s Mark (now Sheraton) at some point.
We’ve also made lasting memories with family and friends during the second (sometimes first) weekend in October. So have your parents. So have your grandparents. So have some of your great grandparents. We’ve posed for the obligatory pictures in front of Big Tex. We’ve devoured countless Fletcher’s Corny Dogs and pounded overpriced paper cups full of domestic beer, and we’ve been happy to do it.
This weekend, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs will be replaced by whatever the hell you can throw on the grill. Paper cups of CURRRRS LAHHHHT will be replaced by whatever you find at the liquor store or gas station (perhaps it’s Currs Lahht). Perhaps you’re staying at your usual spot in Downtown, Park Central or the Galleria area. Maybe you’re staying in Arlington or Ft. Worth (I highly recommend the latter). Will you party in Uptown or the West End, or is a sports bar located in an Arlington strip mall calling your name? (UPDATE: Texas Live! is being mentioned, so maybe check that out if you’re hanging out in Arlington)
No matter what you choose to do this weekend, this is uncharted territory for all of us — differing from both the past OU-Texas showdowns and previous conference championship games (even the ones at this venue). I’m not sure how long the current conference championship structure (or the conference itself) will last, but nevertheless, we should probably get used to this for the time being. It’s time to start some new traditions, y’all. They won’t be as special as the old ones, bet hey, we’ll always have October (barring some serious realignment drama between these two schools, which I guess wouldn’t be terribly surprising).
That’s not to say that everything will be unfamiliar. Many of us will have to make some tough decisions pertaining to a Friday night sleep schedule, and most of those plans will end up falling through. 11 a.m. kickoffs are tricky. That’s doubly true when these two teams are involved.
OU fans are also quite familiar with the DFW Metroplex. Many of us grew up there, currently live there or have lived there at some point. If not, you’re probably an Oklahoman who ends up down there at least once a year. We know where to eat, drink and raise hell. The only difference is that the locations might deviate from the OU-Texas Weekend routine (again, depending on where you’re staying).
That brings us to the game itself...
We all want the annual matchup to stay at the Cotton Bowl, and stay there it will. However, we’ve all wondered — to ourselves or otherwise — what an OU-Texas game would look like in this particular scenario. What would the crowd look like? Which fan base would be better represented, and by how much? How rowdy would the crowd be in comparison to the typical meeting? We all have our theories and educated guesses, but the vibe of this whole thing is going to be a bit of a mystery until we actually see it for ourselves. That’s what makes all of this so damned exciting.
I’m encouraged by the fact that seemingly every person I’ve spoken with since Friday night is planning on attending (or trying to attend) this game. And don’t forget about the UT people — they’re excited about this, too, and many of the Texas Exes might just forgo their Saturday morning tea to attend this game.
Anyway, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be festive, and you’ll be able to cut the tension with a knife. Some things don’t change.