The Red River Rivalry Game to Rule Them All

UT versus OU: One team sucks this season, one team sucks all the time.

By Will Strecker, University of Texas at Austin


Before we get into the fact that UT won the game, we need to talk about me.

Well, my experience at the game. I didn’t go into the weekend expecting much—I planned to drive 35 miles north of Dallas, to Denton, for my mom’s birthday on Friday, with no intentions of going to Dallas or the State Fair, let alone the actual Red River Rivalry game. Then, when an opportunity to cover the Texas/OU weekend presented itself, I took it and ran with it if for no other reason than to let loose and yell at some Sooners.

I woke up at 8:00 Saturday morning to catch the 10:40 train from Denton to Dallas. Shortly after transferring to the DART line in Carrollton, I got the first Sportscenter update on my phone. The game had just started and I’d learned that this season, receiving an update that early in the game meant bad news. Surrounded by Sooners, I checked my phone anyway, and my shock at a 7 – 0 UT lead halfway through the first compelled me to exclaim, intentionally loud enough for the OU fans around me, that UT had just scored.

Soon after, my phone vibrated again. Not imagining another game update, I checked my phone and saw a 14 – 0 score with five minutes left in the first. Once again, I made sure my enemies around me knew the score, prompting several mean looks directed my way, mumbles (which I assume were soft thank-you’s for the helpful updates) from Sooners, and quiet remarks on how bad UT is, how it’s still early and how OU will come back and win.

cottonbowl

Just before the first half ended, I arrived at Fair Park with the score 14 – 3. Anyone walking up to the entrance to the fair wearing burnt orange was ecstatic. Surprisingly, the hordes of maroon didn’t seem shaken at all, and while I was pumped about the Longhorn lead, I tried to contain my optimism.

Just the week before, TCU scored 30 points on UT in the first quarter, and given how we looked this year against every team except Rice, it was reasonable to expect that an 11-point lead would vanish in a heartbeat.

Maybe I’m a bad fan for lacking confidence in my team, but there’s only so much disappointment I can take, season after season, until all my confidence has withered up and dried out. I fully expected the game to, at the very least, come down to the final possession, putting ourselves in a position we’ve lost more times than won since my time on the 40 Acres.

Following the sea of burnt orange and maroon, I made my way to the entrance of the Park, only to learn that there’s a long, snaking line to buy a ticket. At this point, the unusually hot October day began to cause logistical snafus. My black jeans amplified the heat on my lower body, sending sweat dripping down my legs and uncomfortably dampening my boxers. Sweat began to pool in the small of my back, a sight I’m sure caught the attention of all the Oklahoma ladies in line behind me.

After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, I finally made it into the fair and began my quest to find a coupon stand with a reasonable line length. It was halftime, the Longhorns up 14 – 3, and now the 95,000 fans that were in the stadium watching the game had pooled out onto the fairgrounds to buy food and beer.

Making my way to the food court, I gave up my quest for a reasonable coupon line and cut my losses in line before the queues got any worse. After a 15-minute wait to exchange my real currency for worthless scraps of cardstock, I made my way to the hidden beer venue I’d discovered last year.

With two beers promptly chugged and two more in my hands,  I finally met up with some friends who wanted to get into the game for the 4th quarter. Unbelievably, we were actually leading the Sooners 24-10.

Standing at the front of the stadium, we were approached by a scalper trying to sell stubs for $20 a pop.

After a brief barter with the poor guy, we convinced him to lower his price to $10 per stub, and we walked up the stairs to the stadium. This was yet another unexpected turn of events—I never imagined myself actually getting into the game so easily.

Entering the stadium, we walked right through security. Literally, walked right through. I even made eye contact with a guard, but none of us were stopped, questioned or asked to present our stubs. Once through, we looked at each other, confused, and asked ourselves, “What just happened?”

Security was so lax at this point that we didn’t even need the stubs we just spent $10 on, but I suppose there’s a piece of mind to be had knowing that the scalper probably needed the $10 more than I did.

We found a place to watch the last moments of the game on the 50-yard line, and it was magical. Just as I got situated, OU scored to close the gap 24 – 17, and the maroon half of the stadium was losing it.

It’s a crazy feeling being surrounded by 100,000 people, the stadium split down the middle between Longhorn and OU fans, and watching one half of the stadium yelling and cheering and flailing their arms, while the other half quietly fumes.

At this point, I was nervous.

It was completely reasonable for me to expect UT to somehow lose the game: giving me hope, just to yank it away in the waning moments.

The Longhorns punted the ball with 6 minutes left, but the Oklahoma side of the stadium was doomed to remain quiet the rest of the game. The Sooners couldn’t sustain a drive and were forced to punt, allowing UT to run out the clock and steal the win.

There’s few more satisfying feelings than that of watching OU fans empty their half of the Cotton Bowl while my fellow Longhorns chanted, “Texas fight! OU sucks!” Trust me, it’s much more satisfying than chanting it on the E-bus on a Thursday night, led by some drunk freshman frat bro who thinks all UT students eat, breathe and sleep Texas fight. For the first time in my college career, I could actually direct my “OU sucks!” at someone who actually goes to OU, while applying a healthy dose of the Horns’ hand sign.

Somehow, in the middle of the worst start to a season in recent memory, UT managed to win what appeared to be one of the most lopsided games of the season.

After the post-game ceremonies, I filed out of the stadium, my inebriation fading. I spent my remaining coupons on beer, got hit on by a girl and hopped back on the train to Denton, where I slept the whole way home. I wish I had made it out to Uptown that night, as I can only imagine how crazy Dallas was following a Longhorn win, but my bed beckoned after a long day of drinking in the sun. Despite missing the festivities, what initially was going to be a brief trip to Denton to see my family had turned into an all around, unexpectedly pleasant weekend.