The Texas-Oklahoma meeting Saturday was so epic that even before the sun set on the Cotton Bowl, people were wondering about a Red River Sequel.
It’s never happened. But it could, thanks to the Big 12 championship game.
In its current format with the top two teams in the conference standings meeting at AT&T Stadium, newly minted No. 9 Texas and No. 11 Oklahoma could meet again.
“I definitely can,” Texas defensive back P.J. Locke said, when asked if he could envision a rematch. “I definitely can.”
He wasn’t alone.
Wearing a burnt orange shirt, Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed the concept to USA Today in the middle of the postgame celebration.
“I haven’t thought of that – but yes,” he told the newspaper.
It’s a safe bet that Jerry Jones would welcome the event at his stadium. He just might import a carnival midway and a Fletcher’s corny dog concession stand to give it the right feel.
Of course, the other eight teams in the Big 12 might have something to say about that, led by undefeated West Virginia (5-0, 3-0 Big 12), the conference’s highest-ranked team at No 6.
A lot has to happen. Texas must show it really is … OK, you already know. Oklahoma has to navigate a schedule that includes trips to TCU and West Virginia, as well as a defense that has made the continued employment of coordinator Mike Stoops an open debate.
If nothing else, Texas (5-1, 3-0) will be playing meaningful games in October and presumably November, the catchall definition that coach Tom Herman has consistently used to describe progress for his program. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger was the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week after accounting for five touchdowns against OU.
At ninth in the AP Top 25, Texas is back in the top 10 for the first time since the fourth rankings of 2010, just before a disastrous home loss to UCLA that led to seven losses in the final nine games to close the season. The Mack Brown era was never quite the same.
After more than a few false alarms, Texas might be fulfilling the promise and silencing the mockery that has accompanied years in the college football wilderness. Locke remembered previous times where Texas looked ready to return to the elite and then fizzled, like the 2016 opening win over Notre Dame.
“That was the biggest talk ever: Texas is back, Texas is back,” Locke said. “We played Cal two weeks after that. We went out there and played horrible and ended up having a mediocre season. I had an opportunity to kind of experience that … We’ve all got a common ground. The only way to do it is not get complacent and stay hungry.”
Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) has to shake off a bitter last-second loss after a 21-point comeback to tie. A fourth straight Big 12 title may be in doubt. Coach Lincoln Riley struck a determined tone afterward.
“We have been as good as anybody in the country the last three years of responding to the very few losses we’ve had,” Riley said. “That’s absolutely what we expect to do again. It’s going to take a lot of effort, a lot of hard work.
“We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas but we’ve got fight in that room.”
Takeaways from this week in the Big 12:
— Despite a turmoil-filled week, Baylor beat Kansas State 37-34. At 4-2, the Bears are two wins away from bowl eligibility after going 1-11 last season.
— Speedbump or warning sign? West Virginia quarterback Will Grier threw three interceptions in the red zone and was sacked five times in a win over Kansas.
— With its home loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma State is 2-5 in its last seven Big 12 games at Boone Pickens Stadium.
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