National college football

Significance not lost on Texas

Associated Press / October 17, 2009

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The annual Texas-Oklahoma rivalry at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas is always a grudge match. Today’s game between the No. 3 Longhorns and No. 20 Sooners also carries national title implications and promises to be extra spicy after what happened last season.

Forgot? Here’s a rundown.

Texas beat Oklahoma to vault to No. 1. A few weeks later, the Sooners, Longhorns, and Texas Tech were in a three-way tie in the Big 12 South. The tiebreaker went to Oklahoma. The Sooners went to the BCS title game in Florida and Texas got bumped to the Fiesta Bowl.

Still seething months later, the Texas staff claimed the 2008 Big 12 title on the champions wall in the team complex, putting an asterisk next to the year before coach Mack Brown ordered it taken down.

So now Texas tries to get revenge against a team it beat last season.

“I’m sure they’re a little bitter,’’ Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford said. “We’re a little bitter that they beat us last year. I’m sure both sides are going to be pretty amped up.’’

The Longhorns (5-0, 2-0) insist they’ve put the past in the past. “OU had nothing to do with keeping us out,’’ Brown said. “We lost at Tech. It was on us. We should have been mad at ourselves for letting it get out of the control of our own destiny.’’

Oklahoma (3-2, 1-0) and Bradford were in the national title mix when this season started. Then Bradford hurt his throwing shoulder in the first game and missed the next three. Bradford returned last week in a win over Baylor and looked good. The losses may have ended their BCS hopes, but with Bradford back, the Sooners are very much in the hunt for a seventh Big 12 title in 10 years.

Virginia Tech hopes today’s trip to Atlanta goes better than the last one. Having played themselves back into the national championship race after losing their opener to Alabama at the Georgia Dome, the fourth-ranked Hokies face what appears to be their last major hurdle of the regular season when they head south again to take on No. 19 Georgia Tech in a big ACC Coastal Division matchup . . . Expect top-ranked Florida to open up its passing attack today when it hosts Arkansas, which ranks last in the SEC in total defense (nearly 400 yards per game) and is 100th in the nation against the pass (more than 250 yards per game). The Gators have run nearly twice as many running plays (223) as passing plays (114) . . . Sixth-ranked Southern Cal has won seven straight against Notre Dame, six by at least 20 points. So the No. 25 Irish have plenty to prove today at South Bend, Ind., and coach Charlie Weis told his players as much. “I said, ‘Saturday night, fellas, you’re going to be the lead story in the country one way or another. So which lead story do you want to be?’ ’’