AUSTIN (KXAN) — The annual Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma has some added weight to it this year.
With both Texas and Oklahoma ranked in the top-11, a win would make the Longhorns favorites to win the Big 12 and launch them back into the College Football Playoff conversation.
“We haven’t talked anything about big picture,” Tom Herman said. “It’s really focused on winning this one and celebrating it and moving on to the next one.”
Texas already has a loss this season, so a second one to Oklahoma would all but eliminate it from the national championship conversation.
A win in the Big 12 championship game likely wouldn’t help, either — no team has made the playoffs with two losses.
“I didn’t even know where we were ranked this week,” Herman said as he downplayed the national significance of Saturday’s game. “If we haven’t learned that the national landscape changes significantly every year the last few weeks of the season, I mean, we’ve got a lot of football to play. [We’re] trying to win a Big 12 football game and beat our rival.”
This year’s showdown in the Cotton Bowl feels different, but both teams are in the same place that they were in 2018. Texas entering the annual rivalry game with a loss while OU is a favorite to compete for the college football playoff.
The Longhorns turned the conversation with a 48-45 win in Dallas, and (later) a Sugar Bowl win against Georgia. To stay relevant in the national landscape, Texas will need to pull off another upset of the Sooners Saturday at 11 a.m.
As for the Big 12 Championship race, each team can afford a loss in the conference, but the margin for error gets much smaller entering the second half of the regular season.