Oklahoma football: Texas won’t really be back until it takes Big 12 away from OU

Four times in the last five years, Oklahoma football team has been projected as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12.

Related Story: OU has lowered the 'Boomer' on its Sooner State rival

The Sooners did one better. They’ve come out on top all five years and 13 times overall. And that is expected to be the case this coming season, but OU is expected to get a big run for its money from its two closest rivals in the league: Texas and Oklahoma State.

If the Longhorns and Cowboys are the biggest threats to another Oklahoma championship run in 2020, we should know fairly early in the season what path the Sooners are on in head coach Lincoln Riley’s fourth season at the helm of the Crimson and Cream.

The Sooners will meet up with Texas the second weekend in October in the annual Red River Showdown in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. One of the big attractions of that annual rivalry battle is the State Fair of Texas, which is traditionally going on at the same time the game is played. Close to 100,000 fans pack the Cotton Bowl for the game, and there generally are half that many or more outside at Fair Park while the game is going on and afterwards.

This year, however, because of COVID-19 concerns, it is not certain if the state fair will be held and what impact, if any, that will have on the game, which is traditionally one of the biggest games of the entire college football season.

Two weeks later, Oklahoma will host its in-state rival, Oklahoma State, which will be a departure from the many years in which the game has been played on the final weekend of the season.

Oklahoma is the king of Big 12 football until someone takes the throne away from the Sooners.

With the best running back in the Big 12, if not the entire country, and the best wide receiver in the conference as well, Oklahoma State won’t have any problems advancing the ball and scoring. The problem is the difficulty the Cowboys have on defense stopping the other team from putting points on the board. And that becomes a huge problem going up against a high-octane offense with multiple weapons like Oklahoma.

Many college football analysts believe this could be the year Texas finally exerts its will and wrestles the championship trophy away from its hated rivals on the northern side of the Red River. For one thing, the Longhorns arguably will have the best quarterback in the league with the return of Sam Ehlinger for his senior season.

Texas took a step back in 2019 after posting a 10-4 overall record and 7-2 in the league in Tom Herman’s debut season as the Longhorns head coach in 2018. Texas was 8-5 overall and just 5-4 in conference play a year ago.

The Longhorns return seven starters on offense and nine on defense, this should be a contending season for Texas. The team also has seven new assistant coaches, however, as Herman did some major staff housecleaning after last year’s disappointing finish.

Texas still has a commanding lead in the overall series with Oklahoma. The Longhorns are 62-48-5 entering the 2020 season and the 116th edition of the Red River Showdown. The Sooners, however, have won 13 of the last 21 games and, more importantly, own 13 Big 12 championships to just three for Texas.

While Oklahoma has come out the winner in the majority of it games with Texas since the 2000 season, many have been close affairs. Six of the last eight OU-Texas battles have been decided by seven points or less. OU has come out the winner in five of those games, including the 2018 Big 12 Championship.

Between 2000 and 2010, only two teams (Colorado in 2001 and Kansas State in 2003) other than Oklahoma or Texas won the Big 12 football title. Oklahoma won the outright championship in seven of those years, Texas in two.

For the past couple of years, we’ve heard rumblings from Austin and elsewhere that Texas football is back. Tom Herman replaced Charlie Strong who replaced Mack Brown, and the mantra throughout has been that the Longhorns are back and ready to regain their rightful place as a Big 12 championship contender.

Next: Five reasons to be excited about a 2020 season

The truth is, Texas won’t really be back until it takes the championship trophy away from the Sooners. I’ll let you in on a secret: That’s not happening this season, either.

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