As a middle-aged man who chooses to pursue emotional maturity at my own pace, it can take time for me to realize the depth of my true feelings about something that happened.
With the OU Sooners off this weekend, I decided to process some thoughts about the 119th Red River Rivalry, which took place last weekend for the 95th straight year at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The view of the ancient Cotton Bowl coliseum split down the 50-yard line with burnt orange on one side and crimson on the other was nothing less than resplendent.
It’s easy to take it for granted.
Don’t take it for granted.
We live in the same college football universe that has seen the destruction of the OU/Nebraska rivalry and the OU/Kansas series, the longest uninterrupted yearly meeting between two schools in the country until it was, er, interrupted in 1998 by the formation of the Big 12 Conference.
Don’t look now, but Kansas and Missouri have been in separate conferences for a decade, the Pac-12 is about to disappear and the Atlantic Coast Conference is undergoing a default name-change to the ALL Coasts Conference since it is adding California and Stanford to its current collection of East Coast schools.
Two Los Angeles-based teams are joining the erstwhile Midwest-anchored Big 10 Conference, players are transferring from one side of a rivalry to another, and the 118th Bedlam battle between OU and OSU this year will be the teams’ last — for a while.
All told, it’s been a bumpy road for college football traditionalists. While each of the above changes could be argued as a positive or a negative, it’s inarguably brought a great deal of change to a sport that has usually evolved glacially through the decades.
While the final score from the Cotton Bowl last weekend didn’t salve any wounds by traditionalists wearing burnt orange, all who attended and watched should realize they witnessed one of the last bastions of pure college football revelry.
Let’s just shove aside those who want to move the series to home-and-home scheduling or — even worse — to JerryWorld in Arlington, Texas. What takes place every year during the State Fair of Texas under the watchful nose of Big Tex is college football tradition and pageantry at its best.
Why change it when it’s currently a beacon of stability amidst an ocean of change?
That brings us to this weekend’s hangover highlights, summaries of games which featured results sure to change the polling landscape of college football next week:
- On Saturday, Oklahoma State built upon its upset of Kansas State last weekend by jumping out to an early lead, giving up that lead and mounting a comeback to defeat Kansas 39-32. It wasn’t pretty — unless you like watching Kansas receivers run deep downfield wide open — but OSU got the win over a ranked team. Good for the ‘Pokes;
- OSU continues its climb out of the depths of what looked like a lost season just a few weeks ago. Mike Gundy’s squad has now proven they’ll be a tough out for both OU and Texas on the road to the Big 12 championship. I’m curious to see how the Cowboys will perform next week in Morgantown, West Virginia, however. A road win there could solidify OSU as a real player in the conference race down the stretch.
- Speaking of West Virginia, they lost an all-time heartbreaker Thursday, 41-39, to Houston on a last-minute Hail Mary. It happened just seconds after West Virginia grabbed the lead on a fourth-down, 50-yard touchdown. I guess the Mountaineers aren’t really conference title contenders?
- Back to Saturday, Iowa State stunned Cincinnati, 30-10, on the Bearcats’ home field. I can’t help but feel Iowa State has found something at quarterback with the son of an incredibly annoying New York Jets tight end (at least from the viewpoint of a Miami Dolphins fan.) In December, will OU and OSU fans look back on their games against the Cyclones and re-adjudicate original thoughts from those respective contests?
- TCU beat the brakes off of what had been perceived to be a fairly good BYU team, winning 44-11. The Horned Frogs accomplished said feat with their backup quarterback, who threw for 439 yards. Remember last week how I mentioned there are no layups on OU’s remaining schedule?
- Bouncing back from their loss to OSU, Kansas State went to Lubbock and blistered a favored Texas Tech squad, 38-21. With that particular victory, and the previous outcomes, I officially give up trying to predict the Big 12;
- I am simultaneously under-, over- and simply “whelmed” by the Big 12. At this point, it feels like the conference might be on its way to seeing 12 teams finish with a 6-6 record behind OU and Texas. I’m not even sure if that’s mathematically possible. Look, I made a 28 on my ACT exam in 1992, even though I scored a 17 on the math section of the test. So even as average ACT scores are plummeting, I guess I’m an anomaly. Sure, I could logically discuss the possible survivability of a manned mission to the Jovian moon of Europa, but I have to take off my shoes to add to eight;
- Anyway, what was I talking about? (Editor’s note: As usual, it’s unclear.)
- Mediocrity and mathematics aside, this Saturday’s game of the day happened in Seattle, where Washington withstood one hell of a challenge by Oregon to win 36-33. It seems silly to try to sum up what might be one of the top two or three games of the year in just a few words, except to say both these teams are absolutely legit and will be players in the national championship poker game until the bitter end;
- Notre Dame’s 48-20 win over USC was not necessarily unexpected, especially considering how the Trojans had played the past few weeks. What few expected, however, was the golden arm of quarterback Caleb Williams sinking the team Saturday instead of the much-maligned defense. But Williams, who was under pressure all night, tossed three interceptions and didn’t even manage 200 passing yards;
- There was a lot of schadenfreude for OU fans watching a team coached by Lincoln Riley flail uselessly and turn the ball over FIVE times. To be delicate about it, that was not an unwelcome sight for Sooner fans bitter about the breakup with Riley, who is still trending on Twitter today;
- Considering USC has not had a commitment from a recruit since July 1, and taking into account Riley’s comments about NFL coaches’ superior schedules in a recent L.A. Times article, I simply can’t help but feel the spam I recently got on my phone isn’t the only thing being mailed in … or should it be forwarded to an L.A.-based NFL team?
- Utah won again this weekend, 34-14, over California. The game was rather nondescript, except for the fact it marked the sixth-straight game Utah quarterback Cameron Rising was expected to return. He still hasn’t. Look, I understand it takes a while to pinpoint exact return dates from major injuries (an ACL tear, in Rising’s case), but at this point, considering he’s been “on the verge” of returning for about six weeks now, I keep feeling like one of those doomsday cults awaiting the return of Ti and Do or something;
- Iowa won its game against Wisconsin 15-7. The over/under in this game was just 34.5 points, which was only the 10th time in college football that there’s been a total points betting number at fewer than 35 points in the last 18 years. Six of those games have involved Iowa;
- With this in mind, there’s a relevant scene in the 1992 Eddie Murphy movie Boomerang. I’ll try to avoid going into vulgar details, but at one point, Murphy’s character attempts to console a friend after an … ahem … embarrassing encounter with his parents. Murphy hems and haws, and, eventually, simply says nothing and hugs his friend. Both of them sigh;
- The scene sums up college football fans and Iowa backers right now. There’s nothing really to say. We as college football fans just need to find Iowa fans and hug them. They need it;
- I feel like I’m obliged to talk about Colorado blowing a 29-0 halftime lead on Friday night to woebegone Stanford. Some would want me to pile on Colorado head coach Deion Sanders. I refuse to do so, as I still believe in what’s he’s doing in Boulder. Losing at home in such a fashion, to me, simply underscores the type of rebuilding job he’s had to pull at this point to make his squad nationally relevant to where he is driving headlines around the country, even in spectacular failure;
- People should pay attention to what’s happening in Colorado Springs. Air Force, with its 34-27 win over Wyoming, has stamped itself as the top team outside of the power conferences. The Zoomies took down a Cowboys team whose only loss was at Texas in a contest tied in the fourth quarter. Air Force is undefeated and will be favored the rest of the way. Could we see another mid-major break into the college football playoffs in the final year of the four-team bracket?
- I’m going to end my college football thoughts this week with an incredibly NON-college football ponderance. As an Atlanta Braves loyalist, I’ve long said being a fan of said Braves is akin to being an 85-pound man in a Turkish prison. Hyperbole? Nope. This season’s Braves were the eighth team in franchise history to win 100 games … and none of those teams has won the World Series.