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Across college football, there is no true analog for the atmosphere in the Cotton Bowl during the Red River Shootout.
In addition, nothing during the regular season can compare to the crowd reaction created when one team scores on the side of the stadium filled by opposing fans.
Last year’s edition of the rivalry included Cameron Dicker’s 40-yard field goal split the goalposts on the Oklahoma side. It was one of many instances in the series of a player making a pivotal score deep in the opponent’s territory. Not just field position territory, but fan territory.
This century, Daje Johnson and Jordan Shipley brought game-changing special teams scores back to the crimson-laden southeast portion of the historic stadium. In 2001, Roy Williams’ dive at Chris Simms resulting in Teddy Lehman’s 2-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Longhorn end zone still lives on as one of the highlights of the rivalry for Sooner fans.
The feeling of staring at a silenced crowd with almost 50,000 frenzied fans on the other side of the stadium is another unique aspect of the Red River Shootout.
The 2013 edition of the rivalry included a 38-yard pass to Longhorn wide receiver Mike Davis in the Sooner end zone for the final Longhorn touchdown in an upset victory.
On that day (and on most in the rivalry), hostility wasn’t just limited to those in the crowd. According to Davis, the Oklahoma bench had words for the Longhorn receiver prior to the play.
“Before I actually caught that touchdown, on their sideline the coaches were talking trash to me,” Davis said Thursday. “Bob Stoops, some of the players, some of the fans, the cornerback that was sticking with me at the moment was talking trash to me.”
With the third quarter winding down and the Longhorns up 16, Texas’ Case McCoy dropped back on 1st and 10. McCoy pump faked, Sooner corner Zack Sanchez bit on the fake, and Davis ran past him awaiting McCoy’s throw.
“He threw it up there,” Davis said. “I beat my man. He dropped it there right there in the bucket. When I was celebrating, I saw all the OU fans with their hands to their face. I loved that moment.”
Before Davis turned around to celebrate with Malcolm Brown, he took a brief moment to the observe the fans in his vicinity on the “other end.”
He observed Sooner faithful shocked to see the Longhorns putting the finishing touches on an upset win in the Oklahoma end zone.
“As soon as I caught the touchdown, I just looked up in the crowd for a little bit and saw a bunch of mad faces,” Davis said. “I enjoyed that.”
UT’s 36-20 victory was shocking on multiple levels. Texas entered 3-2 with two discouraging losses to BYU and Ole Miss. Texas coach Mack Brown’s job status was the topic of the week, month, and year. Oklahoma was coming off a 5-0 start that included wins at Notre Dame and against TCU.
Though Texas’ season ended with a loss to Baylor and Brown’s resignation, the highlight of Davis scoring the deciding touchdown in Oklahoma’s side of the stadium remains one of Texas’ best plays in the 2010s.
“Like Mack Brown said years ago, you make plays in that game and you’ll be forever remembered,” Davis said. “It’s the game of a lifetime to play in. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Davis won’t forget that play, and neither will the Oklahoma fans who had a front row seat to his game-sealing catch.