The State Fair is such a magical place in itself. There are rides for everyone that can put a smile on your face while also putting a ball of fear in your stomach. There are games that can frustrate the kindest souls and make others feel triumphant. There are foods that take a whole new meaning to “comfort,” topped with powders or grilled sides and bread fried to perfection that would give a Weight Watchers counselor fits. The only thing that could possibly set the great experience of a fair over the top is football.
The Red River Rivalry is a storied rivalry between two of college football’s most classic programs. Two fan bases meeting at the entry gates, bickering over stats and facts. Slowly finding their way to the heart of the fair where a large football stadium sits. As you approach, every sense in your body is elevated. Your eyes are either treated to the beautiful people wearing crimson or they burn from the outrageous number of people donning the burnt orange. Your ears ring as you hear the cheers of the crowd inside the stadium that casts a shadow on you below. Your nose is filled with smells that you have never experienced and you just might give in to the temptation to taste a Texas State Fair delicacy before finding your seat inside.
The shape of the stadium is simple and classic. Double-decked oval, open to the sky, split right down the middle for an equal distribution of fan bases. No fancy stadium designs and definitely no bad seat in the house. If your heart isn’t pumping once the bands finish their pregame shows, you’re in for a real rush of adrenaline when both fanbases try to out scream each other. The loyal fans from Norman trading ‘boomer’ and ‘Sooner’ from opposite sides while those in burnt orange chant ‘Texas’ and ‘fight.’ If you stand still and quiet during the ruckus, you can almost feel the stadium shake, as if the volume of the crowd is causing a small earthquake in the epicenter of the stadium. The noise is taken up a notch as the first team reveals themselves from the tunnel, welcomed by half a stadium of cheers and half of ‘boos.’ The same is done for the opponent, and with that, the tone is set early; that there isn’t a home field advantage or an easy location to play. The season records are back to 0-0 and may the best team win.
The most poised team wins in this matchup and on Saturday that turned out to be Oklahoma. After a poor first quarter, their offense exploded to the tune of 672 yards total. Samaje Perine rumbled all over the Longhorns for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns while Senior wide-out Dede Westbrook aka “Julio Jones” stretched the field and completely embarrassed Texas with 10 catches for 232 yards and 3 TD. The first time an Oklahoma team produced a 200 yard rusher and 200 yard receiver. A lot was on the line for both teams as OU claws their way, spot by spot, back up the rankings and Texas’ coach Charlie Strong was fighting for his job. After 4 long grueling hours of physical, stressful football, OU emerged with their flag still waving.
This particular game isn’t hard to figure out. It means so much because it’s so simple. What color did you put on early Saturday morning? The other color you hate. You hate the memory of Quentin Griffin scoring 6 Touchdowns in a day or the memory of Vince Young running away from your best defenders. This game has a visual and sensual photo album embedded inside you. Your pride overflows before the first kick is sent away. You think the butterflies of a rollercoaster are bad? Try sitting in the Cotton bowl with your team down and trying to make a drive, half a stadium screaming at you and your nerves filling you so much you sweat profusely not only because you don’t want your beloved team to lose, but because the thought of a loss would haunt you for the next 365 days. This isn’t just a game…it’s an experience, an experience that I would recommend everyone having at least once.