DALLAS (KXAN) — As the Longhorns and Sooners head to the Cotton Bowl, there’s less hype surrounding the annual rivalry game in Dallas. Some have even gone as far as calling it the Red River Recession instead of its normal title as the Red River Showdown.
Both teams have tripped over themselves out of the gate, but make no mistake about it — this is a season-saving game for both programs. It will be a Red River Revival for one of the two teams.
The winning team still has a shot at success in the Big 12 and (maybe) on the national landscape. While the loser will face questions about the future of the program and extreme heat from its fanbase. Such is the life at Texas and Oklahoma.
Neither team has been living right in the first couple weeks of the season.
Texas comes into the Cotton Bowl’s 11 a.m. kickoff against the Sooners with a 2-1 record after a last-minute loss to TCU last week. The Longhorns and Horned Frogs played a sloppy game in Austin with a combined 26 penalties. The week before Texas needed to rally from 15 points down in the final minutes to force overtime against Texas Tech and finish with a 63-56 win.
Oklahoma has shockingly started the season with back-to-back Big 12 losses against Kansas State and Iowa State.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler is expected to be an elite quarterback, but he’s still adapting to the demands of college football. The Sooners weren’t able to close on a three score lead over Kansas State. Iowa State scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 37-30 lead. Rattler threw an interception on OU’s last offensive series of the game to seal the Cyclones win.
Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been through the Cotton Bowl multiple times with one win in the 2018 game. If this is Ehlinger’s last time against Oklahoma, he’ll make the most of it.
Defense will most likely be optional. Texas and Oklahoma are two of worst tackling teams in the country through three weeks of the season. Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash is still implementing his system after an abbreviated offseason. Sooners defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is still overhauling in year two of his system.
The momentum swings synonymous with the Red River Showdown will be understated this year. Capacity is limited to 25% to follow guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Typically, there are usually more than 92,000 fans in the stadium. This year, there will be less than 25,000. Half will be in burnt orange and half will be in crimson and cream.
Like every other year, half of the fans will walk out of the Cotton Bowl disappointed. This year, the other half will be rejuvenated with hopes that the 2020 season can be saved.