Emotions of Red River Rivalry require mature football team

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a game that is widely considered one of, if not, the best rivalry games in all of college football, the Red River Rivalry brings a lot of passion and pageantry. The challenge is to embrace the energy of the game while not letting it distract from the task of winning on the field.

When Texas and Oklahoma meet there will always be excitement surrounding it. For this year, with both the Longhorns and Sooners unbeaten, that buildup is at another level.

“It’s why we’re in college football, right? To be a part of games like this,” Texas Head Coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Two undefeated teams. Two top 25 teams. The spotlight of college football will be on us.”

The last two times Texas has battled Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Longhorns fans have felt all of the emotions. Texas jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first quarter in 2021 before losing the game 55-48. They also jumped out to a big lead in 2022 but kept their foot on the gas pedal for a 49-0 win.

“I have a bunch of guys in that locker room that were on the sideline when we lost a 20-something point lead two years ago,” Sarkisian said. “And then a bunch of guys in that locker room that won a big game last year. So they’ve felt the lowest of the lows in this game. They’ve felt the highest of the highs.”

After the Longhorns beat Kansas Saturday to move to 5-0, Steve Sarkisian noted the maturity of his group. The veterans that add to the maturity know how important it is to be prepared heading into a week like this.

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“It allows us to help the younger guys to realize what we’re stepping into,” Longhorns senior linebacker David Gbenda said. “And helping the team to be more ready for the environment.”

Oklahoma sixth-year wide receiver Drake Stoops said it best on the feeling between the two schools: “Just the pageantry of it. Even for the fan bases, just everyone. If you’re an Oklahoman, you don’t like Texas. If you’re a Texan, you don’t like Oklahoma.”

With that sort of animosity, there is always a chance for emotion to get the better of players on both sides. Texas is preaching a level-headed approach.

“Just knowing what’s at stake,” Longhorns senior defensive back Jahdae Barron said. “It’s going to be rowdy. They put our lockers next to each other so we can talk trash but you just have to stay focused and stay focused on the goal.”

The No. 3 Longhorns will battle No. 12 Oklahoma at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. KXAN will have coverage from Dallas over the weekend.

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