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Texas and Oklahoma share an extended historical past within the Pink River Rivalry


DALLAS — He remembers feeling gobsmacked at age virtually 18 that when he and his Oklahoma teammates stepped off the bus on the Texas State Truthful for Texas vs. Oklahoma, they needed to attain the locker room by slaloming by way of the crowds. “I couldn’t imagine what I used to be seeing,” he stated.

He remembers feeling jarred that when he exited the tunnel into the Cotton Bowl, the Texas cannon blasted at nearly the exact same second he appeared over and noticed Bevo, the famed Longhorn steer. “That scared the hell out of me,” he stated.

And he remembers feeling cautious the subsequent yr, 1973, that when Oklahoma and Texas gamers walked collectively by way of the tunnel as they did again then, the trash speak escalated “forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards, [until] I assumed we have been going to have a combat.”

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Right here’s life for you: In the future you get up and also you’re reminiscing a couple of Saturday that one way or the other has reached age 50, as former Oklahoma huge receiver Tinker Owens reminisced this week. The sport wherein Owens caught 4 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns — again when individuals didn’t run round with 163 yards of receptions like they do these days — nonetheless shines from the reminiscence financial institution, whilst a former teammate joshed him, “Do you [even] bear in mind the sport?” It exhibits once more how within the reminiscence in all of life and all of the world, little or no rivals a rivalry in faculty soccer for vividness and lunacy and little or no rivals Texas-Oklahoma … for vividness and lunacy.

They’re at it once more come Saturday late morning within the Cotton Bowl with its singular motif as a stadium half crimson and half burnt orange with attire. They’re at it for the 119th time relationship from 1900 when Texas gained, 28-2, in Austin and the Oklahoma coach, Vernon Parrington, may console himself in a while when his three-volume work, “Most important Currents in American Thought,” gained the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for historical past. They’re at it with each side unbeaten for the primary time in 12 years. They’re at it for the final time within the Large 12, simply as they was at it within the Large eight and earlier than that within the Southwest Convention, and simply as they are going to be at it once more subsequent yr within the SEC.

Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian informed reporters in Austin, “The Pink River Rivalry is why we’re in faculty soccer.” Oklahoma Coach Brent Venables informed reporters in Norman, “That is in all probability the primary week of the season that y’all wish to truly discuss this week’s opponent.”

“I can’t actually clarify what it’s prefer to stroll out to the Cotton Bowl for anyone who hasn’t carried out it,” Owens stated, 50 years after his half in a 52-13 win, the worst loss in all of the storied historical past of Texas Coach Darrell Royal. He does know one peculiar actuality: He feels as if he can really feel “precisely what they really feel inside” annually as gamers emerge — the fantastic, boiling stew of their innards.

There’s at all times an ongoing saga.

Return 10 years, and it’s Texas profitable, 36-20, after three straight losses to Oklahoma that epitomized the Longhorns’ lengthy teeter from their final nice season (2009-10). “You shouldn’t go away this college with out beating Oklahoma. It’s essential do this,” Texas Coach Mack Brown stated that day, in what would change into the final of his whopping 16 Pink River Rivalries.

Return 20, and it’s an emblem of an Oklahoma heyday (three nationwide title appearances in 5 seasons), a 65-13 mauling with Jason White’s 4 landing passes and Mark Clayton’s 190 receiving yards.

Return 30, and Oklahoma Coach Gary Gibbs actually, actually wanted to beat Texas after going 0-4, so when he did, 38-17, he stated: “I’m completely happy, however I’m additionally relieved to get the monkey off my again. But when we come down right here and lose subsequent yr, the monkey will leap again on.” (They did, and it did, and he departed after 1994.)

Return 40, and it’s Texas profitable, 28-16, with a prized recruit, 6-foot-4, 226-pound freshman working again Edwin Simmons, whose 67-yard run clinched it even when he would be a part of the various whose knees protested their ascents.

Return 50, and that’s what Owens and longtime teammates/mates have been doing in numerous methods this yr. They held a gathering, for instance, to mark 50 years since Barry Switzer grew to become head coach. “And I assumed, ‘Hell, I used to be a sophomore in faculty [back then], and right here a bunch of previous broken-down gamers are limping in or hunched over, or some have a cane.’ ” Stuff hurts — neck, again — however as former teammate and NFL participant Tom Brahaney informed Owens, “Tinker, you realize we’d do all of it once more, wouldn’t we?” Switzer simply turned 86 on Thursday. “I’m going by his home to drop off a card and a bottle of wine,” Owens stated.

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The coach was simply getting getting into 1973 when his first Sooners, 2-0-1 and on a Large eight probation that might render them bowl-less with a closing No. 2 UPI coaches ballot nationwide rating, dropped at the Cotton Bowl that offense with a reputation gone largely to the graveyard: “wishbone.” Then they threw some. They’d nice working again Joe Washington zip a 40-yard landing cross to Owens to open the scoring, and nonetheless each time Owens sees Washington, Washington says, “I at all times thought I used to be going to steer you out of bounds.” They threw sufficient that Owens had a 67-yard publish landing on one of many trickiest catches of all to make: that one whereas on their lonesome.

They threw till quarterback Steve Davis completed with a stat line that may dredge a 2023 chuckle: 5 for six for 185 yards.

That 5 for six is one drive anymore.

“I feel that by halftime [and a 21-6 score],” Owens stated, “they’d type of given up. … Once they got here out for the second half, they weren’t the identical crew as within the first half. We had damaged their will, if you’ll.” They broke the desire and boarded the bus: “As soon as we received out of there and went again [to Norman], all of us went out and had one hell of a time.”

Owens reached Norman as a little bit factor (161 kilos) from little Miami within the northeastern nook of the state, the youthful brother of 1969 Heisman Trophy-winning energy again Steve Owens. Tinker had had his days the earlier yr, reminiscent of a blocking efficiency at Nebraska as a freshman in 1972 that earned him Sports activities Illustrated’s lineman of the week nod, a distinction nonetheless spawning grins, and as MVP of the 1972 Sugar Bowl, a 14-Zero win over Penn State. “The way in which we ran the soccer, clearly, with the wishbone, we didn’t get many alternatives,” he stated. “Folks inform me I by no means dropped the ball. I figured if I ever dropped the ball, Switzer wouldn’t throw me one other cross.” He would make it to 4 NFL seasons in New Orleans after which to Tinker Owens Insurance coverage & Advertising and marketing Providers in Norman.

Then in the future, it’s 50 years in the past.

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