Monday, October 8, 2012
Red River: No longer the Big 12 main event
By David Ubben
The State Fair of Texas in October has the Big 12's two biggest brands.
It has all the corn dogs you can eat, and then some. It's got the atmosphere and the Ferris wheel.
Ever since 2008, though? It hasn't had the Big 12's two best teams going head to head. It's the Big 12's best rivalry in name only, and certainly not its best game of 2012. And it hasn't been for awhile now.
In 2008, Texas emerged with a 45-35 win in one of the great games in the rivalry's history, when the No. 5 Longhorns knocked off the top-ranked Sooners. But since then?
In 2009, Texas beat an eventual eight-win Sooners team 16-13 on the way to a dominant undefeated regular season, winning the Big 12 South by a full two games.
In 2010, it was the Sooners' turn to dispatch a five-win Texas team on the way to the Big 12 title.
Last year, the Big 12's Texas-Oklahoma decade-long duopoly ended, but the Sooners beat an eight-win Texas team before getting trounced in the season finale, the second consecutive year that Bedlam decided the Big 12 title, and not the Red River Rivalry.
This year? Texas and Oklahoma have already suffered home losses to teams that were, quite simply, better. Kansas State and West Virginia both pulled narrow escapes in Norman and Austin, respectively. The Big 12 title race runs through Morgantown this year, not Dallas, the host of the Red River Rivalry and the home of the league offices.
The real Big 12 title game? It just might be next week in Morgantown when Kansas State makes its maiden Big 12 voyage to West Virginia.
Most years, the winner of the Red River Rivalry earned the inside track to the Big 12 title. This year? With one loss already under each of their belts, it just may be an elimination game.
The Big 12 champion had two losses in 2007 and 2010, but when you lose two, and your destiny is officially out of your hands.
Texas and Oklahoma have both been ranked for Red River every year but one (2005) since 1999, but 1999 was also the last year neither team was in the top 10.
Until this year, that is.
Oklahoma State scaled the mountain a year ago, becoming the first team not from Austin or Norman to win a Big 12 title since Kansas State sprung the big upset in 2003.
This year, Kansas State and West Virginia are following the Cowboys' lead, definitively proving they're better than the Red River rivals.
Saturday's game is a big one -- and a fun one.
But the Big 12 main event? If you're looking for it, check back in next week in Morgantown.