Texas trying to end losing streak to rival Sooners
DALLAS -- The jabs come from everywhere. From fans, from family and from others who wonder if Texas is really tough enough to beat Oklahoma.
That's what happens when one team has won three straight games in an intense rivalry.
Emotions run deep and the criticism hurts, whether it's questioning Longhorns coach MackBrown's big-game ability or a grandmother teasing her grandson who's been on the losing end in this 104-year series.
"Anytime you've lost a game three years in a row, it really bothers you,"Brown said. "It's not something we're proud of."
Just ask Texas center Jason Glynn, whose grandmother lives in Oklahoma, and razzes him about the losing streak.
"This game means a little more to everyone," Glynn said. "Some of us have grandmas trash-talking if we don't win."
Texas would love to dish out some of its own Saturday, when the 11th-ranked Longhorns (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) play No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0, 1-0) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The matchup even has Roger Clemens' attention even though the former Texas star will be pitching for the New York Yankees in Saturday's third game of the ALCS.
"And by the way, there's two big games Saturday, don't forget that," Clemens said. "And it's not 1 and 2, it's 1 and 1a."
The current crop of Texas seniors suffered through one of the series' biggest routs -- 63-14 in 2000 -- and are still looking for their first win over the Sooners.
"The underclassmen have to play for the seniors," Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson said.
Oklahoma revels in the winning streak. The 2000 game launched the Sooners toward the national title and was a major step in building Bob Stoops' reputation as a game-day genius.
Sooners linebacker Teddy Lehman, who scored the game-clinching touchdown in a 14-3 win in 2001, has a chance to finish his career without losing to Texas.
"It's awesome," Lehman said. "It's my favorite game to play in. There's not a whole lot of people who beat Texas four years in a row."
The Sooners head into the game on a roll.
Oklahoma has swamped its last three opponents by an average score of 55-20. Quarterback Jason White has passed for 16 touchdowns and emerged as a Heisman Trophy contender.
Punt returner Antonio Perkins set an NCAA Division I-A record with three touchdowns in one game, and the defense, already feared as one of the best in the nation, has poured it on as the offense kept piling on points.
Stoops rattled Texas fans earlier in the week when he said this year's team might be the best he's had at Oklahoma and sent an ominous warning that, "We're probably peaking at the right moment."
Brown pretty much agrees: "They just have no weaknesses."
All of which means little to Longhorns defensive tackle Rod Wright.
"Who cares if they beat us three years in a row?" Wright said. "Who cares if they're No. 1 in the country? We just need to win."
Texas is not without skilled players of its own.
The Longhorns have topped 60 points twice and the quarterback combo of Chance Mock and Vince Young worked well last week against Kansas State. Mock help Texas build an early lead, and Young rallied the Longhorns to the win with an 88-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Brown says both will play against the Sooners but won't announce his starter until game time. Stoops said Young's scrambling ability makes him harder to defend than Mock.
The rivalry is historically streaky.
Oklahoma won four in a row from 1985-88. Texas owned the series from 1989-92. The Longhorns owned a three-game winning streak from 1997-99, before the Sooners started their latest run.
While losing a rivalry game is bad enough, it wasn't as devastating when Texas was in the old Southwest Conference and Oklahoma was in the Big Eight. Both are now in the Big 12 South and a loss is a major blow to one team's chances of playing for the league title.
Which means Saturday's matchup has major Big 12 and national title implications.
A win by Oklahoma solidifies the Sooners' hold on the No. 1 ranking and probably ends any chance Texas has of getting back into the national title chase.
The Longhorns, who started the season ranked in the top five, circled the back-to-back games with Kansas State and Oklahoma as the key stretch of the season. But Texas was surprised by Arkansas, losing 38-28 on Sept. 13.
"I heard about the Texas Two-Step with K-State and Oklahoma," Texas receiver Roy Williams said. "I guess you could say we're halfway there."
The Sooners know that three straight wins won't guarantee a fourth. To stay on course for another national title, they have to win Saturday.
"We've got to earn it again this year," Stoops said. "Are we confident? Definitely. But it's the way we're playing that gives us that confidence, not anything that's happened in the past."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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