This yearâ€™s Red River Rivalry match-up had a different feel than any other in recent memory. If someone had walked into the Cotton Bowl at the end of the game unaware of the score, they would have believed that the Texas Longhorns had defeated the Oklahoma Sooners, despite falling just a bit short in the end.
The crowd, one of the best Iâ€™ve seen at that State Fair of Texas, gave the team a standing ovation and broke into one of the loudest renditions of â€œTexas, Fightâ€ that weâ€™ve heard since Vince ran for his final touchdown in the Rose Bowl. On the opposite end of the stadium, the Sooner fans werenâ€™t quite as excited as one would have expected.
But since when is losing to the Sooners something to cheer about?
To be honest, losing stinksâ€”itâ€™s even worse when it comes at the hands of our most hated rival; yet somehow, in the aftermath of Saturdayâ€™s game, most Texas fans (though angry and frustrated at losing) are seemingly more proud of this team than theyâ€™ve been in a while.
Why is that?
First and foremost, this team didnâ€™t quit. Down 31-13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Longhorns fought and kept on fighting, eventually pulling within a touchdown in the final minutes of the game, which hasnâ€™t often been the case in recent years. Since Stoops has been at OU, there have been a few seasons in which the Horns were blown away, giving up as soon as they faced adversity.
Not this time.
Secondly, the Longhorns outplayed the Sooners for the majority of the game, beating them in nearly every statistical category that mattered, unfortunately they also bested OU in turnover margin. It wasnâ€™t the Sooners that beat the Longhorns in Dallas last weekend; it was the Longhorns that beat themselves with penalties, turnovers, special teams, and simple mental mistakes. Regardless, most Texas fans came away from the game believing that Charlie Strongâ€™s team manhandled the Sooners for much of the game.
Additionally, and perhaps the first time season, Tryone Swoopes proved that he is capable of leading his team on one of the largest stages in college football. Yes, he threw an early, detrimental pick-six, but he didnâ€™t allow it to get him down. He brushed it off, continued to lead the team, and finished the game with the best quarterback performanceâ€”statistically speakingâ€”in this rivalryâ€™s storied history, accounting for nearly 400 total yards. Swoopes was, without a doubt, the best of the two young quarterbacks on the field that day. Assuming that the young Texas signal caller continues to improve, Texas may have found an answer at quarterback.
Lastly, the defense once again proved that they are legit. In the last two weeks, they held the Baylor Bears, the nationâ€™s top scoring offense, to 21 offensive points and less than 400 total yards (something no other team has done in the last four years). This week, they were able to nearly stop a dangerous Oklahoma offense, holding them to less than twenty offensive points and under 240 yards.
Again, thereâ€™s nothing that Texas Longhorn fans despise more than losing to the Sooners, but this yearâ€™s game gave fans who bleed orange many reasons to be optimistic about their first-year head coach and his team. Last weekend in Dallas, fans may have very well caught a glimpse of where this program is headed, and for the first time in a while, the future looks bright.