The Red River Showdown historically has been a midmorning buffet of resentment and braggadocio, of “those sorry bastards” and Horns Down hysterics. It’s additionally an annual litmus take a look at for the Big 12 Conference.
The rivalry recreation in Dallas typically denotes the second pragmatism makes its means into the postseason-expectation dialog. And for tentpole establishments like Oklahoma and Texas, these expectations nearly all the time contain trophies. But on this strangest of seasons, the 2020 installment of Texas-Oklahoma will characteristic twin powers reeling into State Fair weekend.1
Texas misplaced to TCU2 in its convention home opener one week after it wanted two touchdowns, an onside kick and a 2-point conversion within the last three minutes of regulation to keep away from an upset towards Texas Tech.
Oklahoma fell to Iowa State in its first loss in Ames since 1960 and has misplaced two consecutive convention video games.3 Suddenly, a staff that has certified for the playoff in three consecutive seasons and received 5 consecutive Big 12 titles is tied for final place within the convention standings.
“It really bothers me that we’ve based everything that whether our league is good or bad or not on whether Oklahoma and Texas are good,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson mentioned Monday. “To be honest with you, we have a lot of good football teams and we always have had a lot of good football teams.”
For a long time, the Big 12 has gone so far as Texas and Oklahoma would take it. The Big 12 championship recreation has included at the very least certainly one of its titans yearly since 2000,4 and the convention trophy case options two BCS nationwide titles: one from Texas, one from Oklahoma.
Although Texas has been mediocre for a lot of the 2010s, the Sooners have emphatically, undeniably carried the convention torch of their stead.
All of that makes the early returns this season so shocking for the oldsters in Austin and Norman. ESPN’s Stats & Information Group has tracked complete effectivity metrics for each season since 2005, and thru three video games, that is the third-worst exhibiting for Oklahoma and the seventh-worst exhibiting for Texas over that stretch. Each enters this weekend ranked within the metric outdoors the highest two within the Big 12 — Oklahoma ranks sixth! Keep in thoughts that as not too long ago as late September, these had been the convention’s greatest odds of securing an invitation to the playoff — and now neither has a chance exceeding 4.2 p.c.
That the convention is thought-about wide-open needn’t be in and of itself an indictment, and in that regard, Patterson has some extent. But he also needs to learn the room: At greatest, the Big 12 hasn’t began the season the best way it hoped.
By complete effectivity, the convention is off to its second-worst combination efficiency by way of three video games since 2005. And in a season wherein two of the 5 energy conferences have but to take the sector, the Big 12 has simply three ranked groups, solely certainly one of which is within the high 20. That’s Oklahoma State at No. 10, the final unbeaten staff within the convention, which has only a 5 p.c chance of reaching the playoff.
Of course, the blame doesn’t relaxation solely on the toes of the Longhorns and Sooners: Kansas and Baylor are averaging detrimental anticipated factors added per play. And in what looks like his 15th season as beginning QB, Sam Ehlinger has paced the Longhorns to one of many high scoring offenses within the nation within the staff’s first season beneath offensive coordinator Michael Yurcich. But Oklahoma, which has set the nationwide normal in scoring efficiency, hasn’t been fairly the pace-setter in its first season with quarterback Spencer Rattler. The redshirt freshman has posted the bottom QBR by way of three video games of Lincoln Riley’s tenure, and the Sooners are scoring 3.14 factors per drive, the worst mark since 2016.
It’s not that the widely disastrous Big 12 defenses have ascended, both: The convention combination defensive effectivity by way of three video games is beneath common when in comparison with the earlier 12 seasons.
The Big 12’s scoring deterioration isn’t mirrored nationally: Points per drive, rating price and offensive factors per recreation by way of three video games throughout Football Bowl Subdivision groups had been the best since 2008, the primary yr for which knowledge is offered.
In the convention’s annual benchmark recreation, this yr’s Red River Showdown feels much less like a measuring stick for convention supremacy and extra like a take a look at for a pulse. “September was the most volatile first month of a season that we’ve ever seen,” wrote ESPN’s Bill Connelly. That’s a sentiment co-signed and shared by most fan bases within the Big 12.