Why Red River Rivalry is one of the best weekends in Texas

Defensive end Aaron Lewis carries a flag as he enters the field before their Red River Rivalry game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 11, 2008 in Dallas, Texas.
Defensive end Aaron Lewis carries a flag as he enters the field before their Red River Rivalry game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 11, 2008 in Dallas, Texas. (2008 Getty Images)


Since 1937, it has been known as one of college football’s highest honors to receive an invitation to play at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. What started as a game watched by only 17,000 fans in person, it is now considered one of the meccas of sports. Historically, the New Year's Day classic played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium hosted numerous unforgettable games, including some that helped determine the eventual national champion.

Cotton Bowl Stadium used to be the home of the Cotton Bowl Classic, until that was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington in 2010. For college football, Cotton Bowl Stadium is now strictly used for the Red River Rivalry, a game that will have the 89-year-old stadium will be filled with red and burnt orange. The showdown between Texas and Oklahoma, a game that has been played annually since 1900, will kickoff on Saturday morning in one of the most famous stadiums in all of sports.


The fair

When it comes to attending the Red River Showdown, the football may actually be the second biggest thrill of your day. The State Fair of Texas is one of the most highly acclaimed fairs in not only Texas, but the entire country. Live music, animals, rides, fried food, family and of course football. So, if this is your first time attending the Red River Showdown this week, this is something you do not want to miss out on.

Here is a list of some must-do’s while attending the State Fair of Texas:

1. Ride the giant Ferris wheel

If you aren’t afraid of heights, this will give you one of the best views of Dallas you will find in the entire city.

2. Listen to live music

For the Longhorn fans, you will feel like you never left downtown Austin.

3. Eat fried food

Cookie Dough, Twinkies, Corn Dogs and Oreos. Anything you can imagine. The State Fair of Texas will fry it.

4. Visit the museums

While you’re enjoying one of the most famous fairs in the country, it can also be a good time to learn the history behind a lot of what you’re seeing.

5. See the livestock

To those of you who aren’t from Texas, I highly suggest going to see some of the live farm animals at the fair. I took my friends from New York and California to see the livestock last year. Needless to say, they were amazed.

6. Cherish the moments

If you don’t always get the opportunity to attend the fair, take advantage of all the amazing interactive and tasty things this place has to offer. The list above is only a fraction of the unforgettable experience that the State Fair offers.

While the players for Texas and Oklahoma prepare for their 11 AM kickoff, find yourself a parking spot early, go enjoy a corn dog and a drink and make the most of the experience.


The game

Texas and Oklahoma have been squaring off since 1900, with the Texas Longhorns holding a 62-47-5 series lead, including a win last year. However, when it came time to square off for a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Sooners got the best of the Longhorns during a rematch in the Big 12 Championship.

The Red River Rivalry, also commonly referred to as the Red River shootout, comes from the fact that this game has been relatively high scoring over the years. This is no surprise, as this game has featured some of the greatest football players, both college and professional, to ever play the sport.

Adrian Peterson, Gerald McCoy, Billy Sims and more have had the honor of playing in this game for the Sooners, while all-time greats including Earl Campbell, Roy Williams, Vince Young, and Earl Thomas have suited up for this game for the ‘Horns. The Texas vs. Oklahoma rivalry goes back to before World War I. Texas will be looking to come home from Dallas with a win over the Sooners, a spot in the Top 10 and sole control of the Big 12.

Here is a look at the results of the last five matchups between Texas and Oklahoma:

Dec. 2018: Oklahoma W, 39-27

Oct. 2018: Texas W, 48-45

Oct. 2017: Oklahoma W, 29-24

Oct. 2016: Oklahoma W, 45-40

Oct. 2015: Texas W, 24-17

Last year’s game in October brought us one of the more entertaining games that you will ever see. A Kyler Murray-led Oklahoma team squared off against Sam Ehlinger’s Longhorns and lived up to its hype of being called the "Red River Shootout." Despite Oklahoma outscoring Texas 21-3 in the fourth quarter, Texas kicker Cameron Dicker stepped up in a memorable moment to knock down the biggest field goal of his career, giving Texas the 48-45 win over Oklahoma as time expired.

Take a look back at Dicker’s game-winning kick for some pregame chills.

Tradition and experience

This game is played every year. The State Fair of Texas has been a host to greats such as Elvis Presley. The game has featured some of the greatest athletes to ever put on football pads. Many people who have been watching this game for years have a certain memory etched in their minds when they hear the words “Red River Showdown” or “Cotton Bowl.” Each year the game adds more to each fan’s long list of memories of this landmark of an event.

I recently sat down and spoke with a close friend of mine and his father, both of who graduated from the University of Texas and are die hard Longhorns fans. The father-son duo of Grayson and Gregg Sheena have been attending the Red River Rivalry game for 20-plus years now. I asked them what their favorite memories were and here is what they had to say.

“The Texas/OU game is the one sporting event my dad and I look forward to every year. We are die hard ‘Horns fans, but we are even bigger food fans. It’s an amazing father-son experience and that really can’t be topped. Don’t forget to try a corn dog," said Grayson Sheena.

“My fondest memory was the ’94 game. With Texas leading 17-10 with 40 seconds remaining in the game, it was fourth-and-goal at the 3 [yard line], when OU ran James Allen to the right side of the Texas defense. When it appeared that he was doing to score, Stonie Clark (Texas defender) and his 330 pounds stopped him at the 1 [yard line], said Gregg Sheena.

Whether you’ll be attending in crimson red or burnt orange, don’t let the Texas heat stop you from making the most of your experience this weekend.


The award

You may hear a few terms that will sound unfamiliar if this is your first time attending a game between Texas and Oklahoma.

One phrase you might hear uttered a few times throughout the game is “The Golden Hat.” The Golden Hat is a coveted trophy given to the athletic department of the winning school each year. The large, golden cowboy hat perched up on a block of wood currently resides in Texas, as the rematch in last year’s conference championship won by Oklahoma did not feature the award. While Texas will come into town with the hardware, Oklahoma will arrive in Dallas with a perfect record and Heisman favorite Jalen Hurts.

After the coaches speak later this week, we should have a better idea of what we’re going to see on the field in terms of formations, injuries, etc. The “Is Texas back?” talk will either be put to rest for a little while or confidently shouted up and down 6th Street in Austin depending on the outcome of this weekend’s game. The game will kick off at 11:00 a.m. No. 6 Oklahoma opened as a 10.5-point favorite over the No. 11 Longhorns.

For the Longhorn fans out there: It is currently 11:15 AM…and you can finish the rest of the sentence.