2008 Texas vs. Oklahoma football game
|103rd Red River Shootout|
|Date||October 11, 2008|
|Favorite||Oklahoma by 6½|
|United States TV coverage|
The 2008 Oklahoma vs. Texas football game, played October 11, 2008, was the 103rd meeting between the University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin in a college football game. The annual game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners is called the Red River Shootout. It is considered by college football coaches to be one of the three greatest rivalry games in college football, and Fox Sports says the rivalry includes some of the most unusual traditions in the sport. The game often has conference or national title significance and the series is unusual in that it is played at a neutral site instead of the home teams' stadium.
The 2008 Texas Longhorn football team (variously "Texas" or "UT" or the "Horns") was coached by head football coach Mack Brown and led on the field by quarterback Colt McCoy. The 2008 Oklahoma Sooners football team (variously "Oklahoma" or "OU") was coached by Bob Stoops with Sam Bradford at quarterback. This was the sixth game of the 2008 season for both teams. Texas came into the game 5–0 record and ranked #5. Oklahoma was also 5–0 and ranked #1. Both teams were 1–0 in conference play. Since the two teams are both in the South Division of the Big 12 Conference, winning this game would be an important step towards winning the Division and possibly the Conference. For either team, a loss would likely eliminate hope of them playing in the BCS National Championship Game.
Prior to the game, Oklahoma was favored by 6½ points. Texas won the game, 45–35. It was the highest scoring event in the history of the rivalry, and it was seen by the most fans - a record 92,182. ESPN analyst Ivan Maisel called the game "one of the best college football games of this or any season."
The Red River Shootout
The Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns are two of the most storied programs in college football. Prior to 2008 each school had participated in college football for more than 100 years. They are home to nationally-known traditions from the Sooner Schooner and the RUF/NEKS at Oklahoma to Bevo and the Hook 'em Horns of Texas.
The annual OU/UT football game is called the Red River Shootout, and it is considered to be one of the greatest rivalry games in all of college sports. It is the second longest running rivalry for the Longhorns, behind the one with Texas A&M. Since 1929 the game has been held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas typically in mid-October with the State Fair of Texas occurring adjacent to the stadium. Prior to 2008, Texas led the series 57–40–5.
In the week prior to facing the Oklahoma Sooners, UT fans conduct their traditional Torchlight Parade and Rally. The rally first took place in 1916 prior to a game versus Texas A&M, but since 1986 it has been an annual event held exclusively during the week prior to the Texas–OU game. Another annual tradition is the running of game balls by the schools' Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs. Each school's ROTC program uses a relay running system to run one game ball all the way from their respective campus to Dallas. Once there, they participate against each other in a football scrimmage, with the winner taking home a rivalry trophy and bragging rights.
The 2008 matchup was officially called the Red River Rivalry, but the game is better known by its traditional name, the Red River Shootout. The game was played at a neutral site, the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, Texas, amid the atmosphere of the Texas State Fair which was being held adjacent to the Cotton Bowl. Dallas is approximately half the distance between the two school campuses, and the stadium is divided down the 50-yard line, with half of the stadium clad in the "crimson and cream" colors of Oklahoma, and the other half wearing the burnt orange and white of Texas. Three rivalry trophies are presented to the winning of each year's contest. The anticipation for the 2005 meeting was especially keen since it marked the 100th Red River Shootout.
The game typically has conference or even national significance. From 1945 through 2004, one or both of the two teams has been ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation coming into 60 out of 65 games. Prior to the 2005 game, Texas held an advantage in the all-time series 55-39-5, which included a 43-35-4 edge in Dallas, but Oklahoma had won 5 consecutive games, including the worst loss ever for a Texas team in the series. That was the longest losing streak for the Longhorns going back to the 1950s and during those five years the Sooners 189 points to 59 points by UT. Those five straight losses had helped build a reputation for Mack Brown that he was not capable of winning in so-called "Big Games". Four times during those five years, Texas' loss to Oklahoma was what prevented them from playing in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game.
Prior to the game
Due to the breadth of sports offered and the quality of the programs, Texas was selected as "America's Best Sports College" in a 2002 analysis performed by Sports Illustrated. Texas ranks as the second most winning program in college football history, in terms of total wins, having passed Notre Dame with win 831 on November 27, 2008. As of the end of the 2007 season, the Longhorns' all-time record is 820-315-33 (.716). Only the University of Michigan have won more games and a greater percentage of games played than Texas, which recorded its 800th victory with the Longhorns' 41-38 win over the USC Trojans in the 2006 BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. One of the top-three teams in the all-time list of both total wins and winning percentage., the University of Texas has traditionally been considered among the elite of college football. From 1936 to 2008, the team finished the season in the top ten of at least one of the two major polls 27 times, or more than one-third of the time. The 2005 national championship team that coach Mack Brown fielded has been called one of the most memorable in college football history by College Football News.
OU has the most victories and best winning percentage of any team since the end of World War II. The Sooners have earned seven AP National Championships (1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000) in that span and are recognized by the NCAA for 16 titles (in all sports; the NCAA does not recognize a football champion in FBS). They have been ranked #1 in the AP and BCS polls more than any other team, have been ranked in the top 5 of the AP and BCS polls more than any other team, and have scored more points than any other team in the modern era. Naturally, Oklahoma had high expectations for the year. Their pre-season ranking of number four in the nation and the fact they had made it to the national championship game in both 2003 and 2004 only served to support this assumption.
The 2007 game was a back-and-forth affair that was ultimately won by Oklahoma 28–21. OU's freshman quarterback, Sam Bradford, was 21–of–32 for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. UT's McCoy was 19–of–26 for 324 yards and two touchdowns. That was the most passing yardage against an Oklahoma team since the 2004 National Championship game vs. USC. The Longhorns committed two costly turnovers. McCoy threw one interception and Jamaal Charles lost a fumble inside the Oklahoma 5 yard-line on what would otherwise have been a touchdown scoring run. For the second straight week, the Texas defense did not cause any turnovers.
Texas entered the 2008 season ranked number 11 in the AP Poll and number 10 in the Coaches Poll. They won their first four games to rise to number 5 in the national rankings. Texas began Big 12 Conference play on October 4, 2008 with a trip to Boulder, Colorado and a win over the Colorado Buffaloes.
For either team to play in the national title game, that team had to end up ranked No. 1 or No. 2 at the end of the regular season. Since 1998 (the year the Bowl Championship Series was formed) through 2004, 9 of the 14 teams were unbeaten going into the championship game. The only time the national champion has not been unbeaten during that stretch was in 2003 when LSU and USC claimed a share of the title as each finished with one loss. As Ohio State tackle Kirk Barton once said "There’ll probably be two undefeated teams at the end of the road and if you’re not one of them you’re probably not going to be playing for the championship. So you’ve got to treat every game like it’s the Super Bowl. You only get one opportunity."
Texas won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Oklahoma scored a touchdown on their first possession. Texas was able to answer with a field goal to make the score Texas-3, Oklahoma-7. OU and UT traded punts and there were no other scores in the first quarter. Prior to the game against Texas, Oklahoma had outscored their opponents by a total of 103 to 3 in the first quarter.
The first quarter ended with Oklahoma in possession of the football. They completed that drive in the second quarter with a touchdown, extending their lead to eleven points. On the ensuing kick off, UT's Jordan Shipley fielded the ball at the four-yard line and took the ball 96-yards for a touchdown. The play was nominated as an AT&T Play of the Week.
Bradford threw a pass for another OU touchdown, and UT answered with a rushing touchdown. On OU's next possession, Bradford threw his first of two interceptions for the day. As a result, UT was able to score a field goal as time expired in the first half. OU took a one-point lead into half-time.
Texas got the ball to start the second half, but were forced to punt. Bradford threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, to extend the OU lead to eight points. Texas answered with McCoy's only touchdown pass of the game. OU ended their next drive with an unsuccessful attempt at a fourth down conversion. Texas kicked a field goal to take a two-point lead. It was their first lead of the day, and the first time for Oklahoma to trail an opponent all season. 
In the fourth quarter, Oklahoma scored a touchdown to take a five-point lead. Texas answered to regain the lead, then forced Oklahoma to punt. Texas scored again with 4:02 left in the game, creating a 10-point lead that resulted in the final score. Texas won the game, 45–35. It was the highest scoring event in the history of the rivalry, and it was seen by the most fans - a record 92,182.
As a result of this game, Texas increased their lead over Oklahoma to 58-40-5 all-time in the Red River Rivalry,.
ESPN analyst Ivan Maisel called the game "one of the best college football games of this or any season" and said "If you went to see your team play Saturday, if you didn't have the good fortune of wearing burnt orange or crimson in Fair Park on a sunlit fall Saturday, if you made the mistake of watching some other game, get thee to YouTube. Buy, cheat or steal your way to a copy and watch No. 5 Texas beat No. 1 Oklahoma 45-35."
Austin American-Statesman sportswriter Kirk Bohls said "The win is the third-biggest of Brown's 11-year stint at Texas, trailing only the landmark victories over Ohio State and the unbeatable USC Trojans in the magical 2005 season." Sportswriter Cedric Golden, writing for the same paper, said UT's offensive coordinator Greg Davis called the best game plan of his career. Golden said Davis' plan for this game was even better than the game plan in the 2006 Rose Bowl, in which Texas won the national championship.
After the game
Texas later beat #11 Missouri 56-31 and #6 Oklahoma State 28-24. The following week #1 Texas lost to #6 Texas Tech 39-33. They finished their season with wins over Kansas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma would go undefeated in Big 12 play after the game, scoring several major wins and setting an NCAA record (5) for most consecutive games scoring 60 or more points, including a 65-21 blowout of Texas Tech that created a 3-way Big 12 South tie. In the end, due to Big 12 Conference rules stating that if there is a three-way tie for division champion, the team with the highest BCS ranking plays for the Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma played Missouri in the Big 12 Championship game and won. They then faced the Tim Tebow led Florida Gators in the 2008 National Championship game, where they lost, 24-14.
Notes and references
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- Longhorns' Perfect Drive: Texas' 2005 National Championship Season Sports Publishing (January 15, 2006) ISBN 1-59670-116-1
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- Texas Pride: Longhorn Glory Shines Through an Unforgettable Championship Season Triumph Books (January 31, 2006) ISBN 1-57243-876-2
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