OU Smorgasbord

If you’re a fan of Texas, Oklahoma, or college football in general, you can’t taste the full flavor of the Texas-OU experience until you’ve attended this game.  In fact, you haven’t had the full experience unless you’ve arrived in Dallas at least by the Friday evening before the game and been out and about the city whether downtown, the west end, Greenville Avenue, or wherever Texas and Oklahoma fans are congregating. I’m not much of baseball fan anymore but to be in a bar in Dallas the night before the game amid fans adorned in burnt orange or red with a major league baseball playoff game on the television, this is my Octoberfest.

Then there’s the state fair. The folks, the fans, the carnival atmosphere and most importantly the smells or should I say the aromas. It seems like once or twice a year I’m at a high school football game, a Texas home game, or a restaurant bar with outdoor seating when for an instant the aroma of draft beer and fried food wafts by my and I’m wistfully reminded of the Texas-OU game.

*****

In October 1968, six years before I would set foot on the UT campus as a student, my parents drove from Vestal, New York to Austin to visit my brother Clayton who was a student at UT. Along the way, they stopped off in Dallas to visit with some old friends who had been across the street neighbors when we had lived in Houston a few years before. The trip was planned so my parents would arrive in Dallas on the Saturday afternoon of the Texas-OU game and meet Clayton on the fairgrounds after the game. During the game—my father reported—my mother asked a ticket-taker at one of the Cotton Bowl gates to let her in the stadium just for a few minutes so she could visit with her son. That of course was a no-go.

But something else my father told me about that day at the fair resonated the most to me. In relating the experience of being on the fairgrounds while the Texas-OU game was going on inside the Cotton Bowl he simply said, “The sounds billowing out of that stadium . . .” as he looked at me with wonder and slowly shook his head. I got it. I couldn’t wait.

*****

The 1968 Texas-OU game was the second of four straight victories for the Longhorns during a streak where they won 12 of 13. It’s impossible for Texas fans nowadays to relate to such success in this game. Not so much for Oklahoma. They’ve won 15 of the last 22, and five of the last six.

According to 247 Sports, the recruiting since 2010 has been pretty even in this series. Texas’ average ranking over those 12 years is 9.9, Oklahoma’s is 11.6. Since 2017, Oklahoma has a slight edge with an average rank of 9 versus Texas’ 11.8.

The above recruiting analysis indicates that one of the reasons Oklahoma is dominating this series is their superiority over Texas in developing talent. In my opinion the other factor in OU’s dominance is game planning and game day coaching.  During Mack Brown’s tenure, Texas lost the Oklahoma game five straight years from 2000 to 2004. Bob Stoops was interviewed on an Austin sports talk station this week and he told a story about telling his coaches on the Monday before the game in 2000 after he’d watched film on Texas, “We’re going to kick the hell out of these guys.” Yeah, they did 63-14. I doubt Mack Brown ever thought his team was going to kick the hell out of Oklahoma. This was reflected in his game plans that were painfully conservative exacerbated by Brown and his offensive coordinator coaching not to lose. Brown was tight. Darrell Royal and Fred Akers were never tight during the Oklahoma game. Since the Mack Brown era, Oklahoma has had the decided edge in coaching staffs. It’s not even close.

This year, Texas fans have reasons to feel optimistic. Steve Sarkisian has proven so far this season that he’s not a conservative play caller as evidenced by the deep shots in the passing game that he’s called in all five games including the loss in Fayetteville.  And unlike his predecessor he prioritizes putting the ball in his playmakers’ hands. Bijan Robinson had 35 carries against TCU and is the second leading rusher in the country. Freshman Xavier Worthy has 15 receptions for 253 yards and four touchdowns.  Jordan Whittington has 21 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

The challenge for Texas won’t be the offensive game planning or play calling. The challenge—and the game may hinge on it—is Casey Thompson’s ability to connect with open receivers 30 and 40 yards downfield at least a couple of times. Sarkisian can scheme his talented receivers free on those deep routes as he has in every game this season but first Hudson Card and for the last three games Casey Thompson have failed to connect on those opportunities.  

Thompson’s inability to hit on those deep balls may be the reason Hudson Card originally beat him out. Maybe Card—who the scouts believe has the superior arm talent to Thompson—hit those long balls more consistently than Thompson did in August.  I know none of you want to consider this but if Thompson misses opportunities in the passing game and the offense struggles on Saturday will Sarkisian send in Card?

******

The Thursday before the OU game in 1975, I went to the pep rally in Gregory Gym. I remember Marty Akins and Earl Campbell speaking and then Darrell Royal wrapped it up. The last comments he made were about the weather forecast for the game. It was going to be sunny and hot and Royal said that’s the way it should be for Texas-OU. Then he said it had been a while since we’ve won this one and it was time to get back in win column. Well, Texas played valiantly but in one of the greatest Texas-OU games I’ve been to, fell to Oklahoma 24-17.

Still, what Royal said in 1975 applies to 2021. It’s going to be sunny and hot on gameday and it’s been a while since we’ve won this one and it’s time to get back in the win column against the Sooners.

Oh, Wouldn’t it be nice?

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“Wouldn’t it Be Nice” written by Brian Wilson / Tony Asher / Michael Love

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray
It might come true
Baby, then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
Oh, we could be married (oh, we could be married)
And then we’d be happy (and then we’d be happy)
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

Hook “Em, and KICK THE HELL OUTTA OU
W.E.

3 Comments to “OU Smorgasbord”

  1. I love the stories, I’m guessing one thing… Was it the Adams family your folks visited?
    IE: Mark and Dan are responsible for your YOU???

  2. Tough loss, but what a fun game to watch!

  3. H. Card was selected as the starting QB exactly because he was more accurate with long passes in spring training and in August.

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