BOULDER, Colo. – A matchup between the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas always makes headlines in the southwest region – regardless of what sport is being played. As Texas Head Coach Chris Hopps joked, “Even our debate team gets fired up for its rivalry with Oklahoma.”
This season, with Oklahoma and Texas sitting atop the Red River Conference standings, there is additional fuel added to this fiery rivalry.
“It’s an essential match as far as the conference goes,” said Hopps. “I like that we only play each conference member once and that there is not a conference championship. It gives an added importance to every match.”
Both the Longhorns and Sooners are 2-0 in conference play, and have each played one common opponent in Baylor. Oklahoma got the first crack at the Bears and soundly put them away 57-12. Texas’ play against Baylor produced a similar result – 43-12 in favor of the Longhorns.
Still, the Longhorns do not seem to be looking into their numbers or results, but Oklahoma’s 3-0 overall record has their attention.
“We’re going to be up against it,” said Hopps. “To get a good result we are going to have to play our best and have a few bounces go our way to even stay close with them.”
Enhancing this annual meeting is the move to make the match one day prior to the gridiron version of the Red River Rivalry and in the same location. The Friday showdown will take place in Dallas at Glencoe Park – the home pitch of the Dallas Harlequins.
With plenty of hoopla surrounding both campuses leading up to this weekend’s rugby and football games, Oklahoma’s coaching staff wants to make sure his team is focused with the objective at hand.
“We’ve got to keep our guys levelheaded,” explained Oklahoma Head Coach Jason Horowitz. “With everything going on this week, we’ve got to remind our guys that this is just another conference match.”
The match surely won’t be won or loss by a single player, but an intriguing matchup within the game will be found at outside center. Michael Al-Jiboori of Oklahoma and Taylor Hayes from Texas both wear No. 13, and each captains his side. While each star player is the key playmaker for his respective team’s midfield, they can both beat a team distributing the ball as well as making line breaks.
It may be too early to deem this match the deciding factor in the race for the Red River Championship, but there is no doubting the outcome will play a major part in who claims the conference at the end of the fall.