AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time since 1998, Texas and Oklahoma will both enter the Red River Showdown not ranked. That shouldn’t make anyone expect the rivalry game will be any less exciting or heated, especially after last year.
The 2021 edition of Texas-Oklahoma was about as thrilling as they come, and as deflating as it gets on the Longhorns’ side. After racing out to a 28-7 lead, Texas surrendered the lead and lost on a long touchdown run from the Sooners in the final seconds.
In that type of game, the atmosphere is raucous and can swing greatly with the setup of the Cotton Bowl. With the stadium split with Oklahoma and Texas fans, the energy in the stadium is something different for all involved.
“Man, that’s a crazy atmosphere to play in,” said Longhorns junior running back Bijan Robinson. “Last year was awesome because it was a normal year. We all got to experience the whole crowd being [there].”
With the Longhorns surging out to that 28-7 first-quarter lead, the half of the Cotton Bowl donning burnt orange gear was making a lot of noise. But as Oklahoma clawed their way back in and swung the momentum back in their favor, the Longhorns did not react how their head coach hoped.
“I thought the crowd noise last year got us a little bit,” said Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian. “I didn’t think we handled it very well. I don’t think we were very mature last year. I thought we lost a little bit of composure in last year’s game.”
Texas enters as a touchdown favorite according to Caesar’s Sportsbook. A close game is probably safe to expect as the last eight Red River Showdowns have been decided by one score. In this high-stakes type of close game, momentum swings and inevitable and key.
“You can feel as a team when you start to lose poise and stuff like that,” noted Longhorns junior wide receiver Jordan Whittington. “You can definitely feel it and that’s when your leaders got to step up and [say] hey, let’s get this thing rolling and we’re going to have to create our own energy. That’s something we’ve been working on this year.”
Both teams starting quarterbacks, Quinn Ewers for Texas and Dillon Gabriel for Oklahoma, are both dealing with injuries and there is uncertainty on both sides who will suit up under center. Texas and Oklahoma are set to kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.