Red River showdown loses luster after Longhorns, Sooners tumble
The last time Texas and Oklahoma came into the Red River Rivalry already scarred by a conference loss was 1997.
It was the battle of the Johns.
John Mackovic's Texas team was on its way to complete implosion with a 4-7 record that led to his dismissal. John Blake's OU team went 4-8 that year, the second of his three losing seasons before he got canned.
For anyone who cares, Mackovic beat Blake, 27-24.
Thanks to the mighty Big 12 North on Upset Saturday, we're now talking about a border war at the Cotton Bowl with Mackovic-Blake story lines instead of a potential top 10 clash for the ages.
The Sooners started off Saturday ranked No. 3. But the nation's No. 1 scoring offense sputtered, and the Sooners' defense also unraveled in the Rockies. Colorado scored 20 consecutive points, capped by Kevin Eberhart's 45-yard field goal as time expired for a 27-24 upset.
Two hours later, seventh-ranked Texas was putting the finishing touches on a total collapse in a 41-21 loss to Kansas State in Austin that included the trifecta: giving up touchdowns on interception, kickoff and punt returns.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who threw seven interceptions all of last season, has nine through five games after being picked off a career-high four times leading to 20 K-State points.
McCoy's status for the OU game next Saturday was uncertain after he suffered a mild concussion. Texas officials said he'd be evaluated over the next few days.
Was it possible both teams were already thinking about the game for the Golden Hat next week?
"No, I don't buy that," said OU coach Bob Stoops, whose team had an argument for No. 1 along with USC and LSU until Saturday.
Texas coach Mack Brown continued to talk about the parity in college football.
"It makes it better for fans and harder for coaches," Brown said.
Before Upset Saturday, Oklahoma was probably seen as a decided favorite against Texas because the Sooners had been dominant in victories against North Texas, Miami, Utah State and Tulsa.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford had looked like McCoy did last year for Texas. Tucked behind a fortress of an offensive line, Bradford had been sacked only twice, thrown only two interceptions and was second nationally in pass efficiency.
But Bradford threw two second-half interceptions that led to Colorado touchdowns as the Buffaloes erased a 24-7 deficit.
"We learned that we have to show up every week and play hard every week," Bradford said. "Next week, we have a big game. We have to bounce back and play hard. We can still come out and win the Big 12 South. We can still do that."
The Longhorns, who have won two straight in the series, appeared to be underdogs to OU because they had trouble putting away wins over Arkansas State, TCU and Central Florida. As crazy as it sounds after Brown's worst home loss in 10 seasons as coach, maybe Texas feels it can hang with the Sooners thanks to OU's breakdown in Boulder.
"It's always a huge rivalry game," Texas receiver Quan Cosby said. "I don't think it will be diminished in the eyes of the fans. They lost. We lost. But there's a lot of season left. We can't let this [Kansas State] game beat us twice. We need to go to Dallas and fight hard."AP John Mackovic (UT) and John Blake (OU) were the coaches the last time Texas and Oklahoma entered the Red River Rivalry with a conference loss.
The bottom line is one of two teams ranked in the top 10 going into Saturday will be 0-2 in Big 12 play after next Saturday's showdown at the State Fair.
Stoops said he didn't talk about Texas with his players after the Colorado loss.
"We talked about the things we didn't do very well out here today and what we need to get done next week if we're going to have a chance the rest of the year," Stoops said.
Texas defensive tackle Derek Lokey of Denton Ryan was asked if he took any heart in the fact Oklahoma lost a conference game last year - to Texas - and still won the Big 12 title.
"No. That's not a motivating factor, because we allowed them to win the Big 12 with how we finished," Lokey said, referring to losses to K-State and Texas A&M to end the 2006 regular season. "We won't talk about that.
"With OU dropping one today, it's going to make them fight harder, too. It's two desperate teams going at it."