Why the Red River Rivalry means more now than ever

By Kyle Dubbels -

The 119th meeting between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas is set to take place Saturday at 11:00 am (Central) at the State Fair of Texas in the historic Cotton Bowl. 

The Red River Rivalry has always been a highlight of each college football season, pitting two of the most recognizable names in college football against one another in what is usually a very exciting game. But this year the game means a little more, as it signifies the end of an era for college football. After this year, the game will no longer hold Big 12 title, national championship, or College Football Playoff implications.

That’s because as the conference realignment wheel spins, these rivalry game victories are now the pinnacle achievement that a lot of teams can reach in a season. As much as it pains me to say that, it’s true.

If you are a middle-of-the-road team in the current SEC or B1G, with the new additions coming next year, your ceiling is lowered tremendously. Oklahoma and Texas fans, that includes you. You may be a “blue blood” program now, but once you are in the SEC with the likes of LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, you will have a lower chance of winning the conference, much less making the College Football Playoff.

And with the conference title out of reach, that makes beating your biggest rival all the more meaningful.

Let me use my home state team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, as an example.

The University of Minnesota has never won the B1G West despite being close many times, but there was always next year. Maybe next year they could finally break through, reach the B1G championship game and make it to the Rose Bowl. Maybe instead of eight wins, they could get a lucky break in the schedule and win 10 or more games.

That was always the ceiling/dream season fantasy that we Gophers always had. Unfortunately, that’s what it will always end up being — just a dream.

With the additions of Oregon, Washington, UCLA and USC to the B1G beginning next season, it makes the climb up the mountain of the B1G insurmountable. It’s hard enough for Ohio State and Michigan to play a full slate of B1G teams and come out on the other side with no more than two losses. Considering the Gophers are 4-61 since 1980 against just Ohio State and Michigan, the only time we can smell the roses will be when we buy some roses off the highway while we are in L.A. for a conference game and pretend it’s the real thing.

In other words, the best season that the Gophers can most likely achieve is an eight-win season and mid-tier bowl game. OU and Texas may have a slightly higher ceiling, but realistically, they will be on the same plain. So, where does that leave the fans? Where can a fan of a team in this situation find any joy? How can they frame a season as successful when the deck is stacked against them?

The answer: their rivalry games.

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Comments (9)

“You will have a lower chance of winning the conference, much less making the College Football Playoff.” You’ve got that exactly backwards. In a 12 team playoff (with 6 or 7 at-large spots) it will be much easier for teams to make the playoff than to win their conference (unless you are outside of the SEC/Big Ten when you might need to win your conference just to make the playoff).

Kyle Dubbels Empirical Records support his assertions. Your opinion has zero evidence on record.
I will use another example from your conferences of choice “SEC/Big Ten”.
PA State consistently loses to OH State, MI or both & competes neither in the CFP, LLC nor Wins the B14G.
The IN s, Purdues, WI s, MI States, NE s, IL s, IA s, MN s, Northwesterns, MD s, Rutgers Histories show that.

Penn State would have quite a few playoff appearances the past 8 years if there was a 12 team playoff. I don’t think you understand the future landscape

My info. on Penn State is moving forward.
The past Teams ranked 6th place through 12th by the CEO Bill Hancock select committee CFP, LLC cannot be retroactively applied to the future.
Kyle Dubbels legacy Big1410 Team’s empirical Evidence also applies. Show me evidence.
I have another better researched evidence Model than Penn State.
Legacy Nebraska’ s pedigree in the B6, B7, B8, Big12 through 2010. B owl C hampionship S eries, LLC Champions, Cornhuskers!
The Big1410 was their new Blue blood Playground. After Winning Seasons: 2011-15, but not Bill Hancock, CEO ‘s Bowl Championship Series & CFP, LLC Season’s Nebraska’s 2016 – 2022 relevance on the national Scene has disappeared.
The collected & analysed Data shows that’s
probable for Longhorns or Sooners, Huskies & Bruins, or Ducks & Trojans in the SEC, Big1810.

I have two points to answer you.

1. Why do you want a playoff system that is easier to get into? Will that really make the playoff better or will it water down the competition?

2. There may be more spots but with tougher conferences there is fewer room for error week in and week out. So if Penn State (who already loses to Ohio State and Michigan every year) is also playing USC, UCLA, Washington, Oregon then there is a higher chance that they will finish the season closer to .500 than if they kept their current schedule. While there may be more openings into the playoff, there are a lot more cars in front of them on the road, so to speak, and jumping them will be hard.

The 12 team playoff still makes Minnesota’s (or any school not in the “top tier”) dreams possible of achieving more than just a “mid-tier” bowl. Now championship? Yes, but that’s always been an impossible dream since y’all were dominant in the 1930s or whenever it was you were a dynasty program.

You are actually trying to compare OU and Texas with Minnesota lol. The key to success, more than ever, is going to be recruiting. OU, right now, is 5th in recruiting in the SEC in 2024 Class. Just please research OU’s and Texas’ history vs SEC opponents. As long as OU and Texas continues to build in recruiting (which will only get much better once inside the SEC), they will compete for the SEC AND, the CFPs (which goes from 4 to 12 teams in 2024)! Minnesota will NEVER compete for the B1G Title and the CFPs because of recruiting (or the lack of recruiting). Blue Bloods that are still competing for championships, recruit and sign Blue Chips on a yearly basis. There’s NO way of truly comparing the futures of OU and Texas….with Minnesota lol.

Perhaps I should have used Nebraska as a better example. They were dominant in the 90s and early 2000s and were supposed to make a huge jump into the National Title picture with their move to the Big 10. They are now a football laughingstock and people are saying that Nebraska is now a volleyball school. They used to recruit great players every year, now they don’t.

The same can be said about Texas A&M. They also have consistently good recruiting classes and fail to do anything with them because they play in the SEC where it is very hard to win. UT has pulled in great class after great class and until this season have not been very good and have struggled to beat teams like Kansas. So I don’t think recruiting will really save them once they are in the SEC.