AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the Red River Showdown. It’s the State Fair of Texas. It’s college football at its finest, and Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian really wants that Golden Hat.
At Monday’s press conference, Sarkisian re-upped his love and affection for the pageantry and aura that college football creates, and he said after getting a taste of the neutral-site rivalry game for the first time last year, he wants the whole thing now.
“What an awesome environment for college football,” Sarkisian said. “From the moment you start pulling into the state fair and see both sides — gosh I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it — that’s what it’s all about.”
Oklahoma is coming off one of its most lopsided defeats in recent history. TCU not only knocked Sooners starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel out of the game, the Horned Frogs continued to add insult to injury and clobber them 55-24. Texas, on the other hand, played perhaps its most complete game of the season on both sides of the ball in a 38-20 win over West Virginia.
This will be the first Red River Showdown since 1998 that both programs aren’t ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Texas won that year 34-3, and the Longhorns lead the all-time series 62-50-5.
The Sooners are 3-2 and 0-2 in the Big 12 so far and may not have their best quarterback available depending on concussion protocols. Texas played great against a solid West Virginia team that took league-leading Kansas to overtime. Could this have the makings of a trap game? At the Cotton Bowl? At a place vendors proudly serve fried butter? Not hardly, Sarkisian said.
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“This rivalry, this game, and what it all stands for, we know more than ever we’re going to get the best version of them, and we have to give them the best version of us,” Sarkisian said. “This team is really good and they play really hard and are extremely well-coached. We have our work cut out for us and we have to play really good to be victorious.”
Following his first Red River Showdown last season, where the Longhorns squandered a 28-7 lead after the first quarter to lose a wild one 55-48, Sarkisian said the even split of fans in the stands is a unique challenge that the coaching staff will address.
“One end of the field it’s a home game, on the other end it’s a road game,” Sarkisian said. “I think we’ll adjust some things there with how we approach it, especially offensively.”
The Longhorns are trying to build off the way they played against West Virginia, and they’re coming into the game with momentum on their side and a little anger that the Sooners have held the Golden Hat for three consecutive years. Texas last won the game in 2018 with Tom Herman at the helm, and before then, they briefly held the trophy after Charlie Strong’s squad won the 2015 game.
When asked if his team would be mentally ready for the game after last week’s results, Sarkisian replied with a bit of an edge.
“Last time I checked this morning when I walked in our building, the Golden Hat wasn’t in there, so we’ve got plenty to get ourselves prepared.”