August 25, 2009

Red River Rivalry takes center stage

It's college football's main event, a season-defining matchup between two of the sport's titans that almost always determines a likely participant in the BCS championship game.

Welcome to Oklahoma-Texas, the season's best game.

For most of this decade, the Red River Rivalry in the ancient Cotton Bowl has been college football's main event. And that will be the case again this season in a rivalry that has seen the Sooners take six of the nine meetings since 2000.

"It's the same with a lot of the big rivalries," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says. "It's the tradition and the history. Another thing that adds to it is that they are great teams. It's more than just bragging rights now. It's an inside track, or one up on the other guy, on your way to a championship, hopefully. I think being in the same division has really escalated it."

In the 1990s, Florida-Florida State was college football's can't-miss game. In the 1980s, the Florida State-Miami game was the rivalry that annually had the most national-title implications.

Now, center stage belongs to the Red River Rivalry. It not only determines supremacy in the Big 12 South - and the entire conference, for that matter - but also the pecking order for the BCS title game. That will be the case again, as Texas opens the season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and Oklahoma No. 3.

How big have some of meetings been this decade? Check it out.

2000: OU thumped Texas 63-14 en route to an unbeaten season and national title.

2003: The Sooners whipped the Longhorns 65-13 on the way to the BCS championship game.

2005: Texas ripped Oklahoma 45-12 on the way to the national championship.

2008: The Sooners advanced to the BCS title game despite losing 45-35 to the Longhorns.

While OU-Texas is a must-see game in 2009, it's certainly not the only standout game of the season. Here is my list of the top 102 games of 2009. Why 102? Why not?

TOP 102 GAMES OF 2009

1. Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas, Oct. 17

2. Florida at LSU, Oct. 10

3. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 7

4. Ohio State at Penn State, Nov. 7

5. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta, Sept. 5

6. Texas at Oklahoma State, Oct. 31

7. USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12

8. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Nov. 28

9. USC at California, Oct. 3

10. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, Oct. 17

11. West Virginia at USF, Oct. 30

12. Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5

13. Florida State at Florida, Nov. 28

14. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17

15. Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 31

16. Alabama at Ole Miss, Oct. 10

17. Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 28

18. North Carolina at Virginia Tech, Oct. 29

19. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 21

20. Iowa at Penn State, Sept. 26

21. Oregon at Boise State, Sept. 3

22. LSU at Ole Miss, Nov. 21

23. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 27

24. Georgia at Tennessee, Oct. 10

25. LSU at Georgia, Oct. 3

26. Nebraska at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19

27. Oklahoma at Kansas, Oct. 24

28. USF at Pittsburgh, Oct. 24

29. USC at Oregon, Oct. 31

30. BYU vs. Oklahoma in Arlington, Texas, Sept. 5

31. Nebraska at Kansas, Nov. 14

32. Georgia Tech at Florida State, Oct. 10

33. Oregon State at USC, Oct. 24

34. Tennessee at Alabama, Oct. 24

35. Cal at Oregon, Sept. 26

36. Nebraska at Missouri, Oct. 8

37. Nevada at Boise State, Nov. 27

38. Miami at Florida State, Sept. 7

39. Pitt at West Virginia, Nov. 27

40. Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 12

41. Texas Tech at Texas, Sept. 19

42. Florida State at Clemson, Nov. 7

43. TCU at BYU, Oct. 24

44. Iowa at Michigan State, Oct. 24

45. Houston at Tulsa, Nov. 7

46. Clemson at Georgia Tech, Sept. 10

47. Pitt at Rutgers, Oct. 16

48. Florida at South Carolina, Nov. 14

49. Georgia Tech at Miami, Sept. 17

50. Florida State at North Carolina, Oct. 22

51. Penn State at Michigan State, Nov. 21

52. Oklahoma at Texas Tech, Nov. 21

53. Penn State at Michigan, Oct. 24

54. Auburn at LSU, Oct. 24

55. South Carolina at Georgia, Sept. 12

56. Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12

57. East Carolina at North Carolina, Sept. 19

58. Cincinnati at USF, Oct. 15

59. Tennessee at Florida, Sept. 19

60. Michigan State at Notre Dame, Sept. 19

61. West Virginia at Cincinnati, Nov. 13

62. Oklahoma at Nebraska, Nov. 7

63. USF at Florida State, Sept. 26

64. TCU at Clemson, Sept. 26

65. Iowa at Wisconsin, Oct. 17

66. Utah at TCU, Nov. 14

67. Iowa at Ohio State, Nov. 14

68. Utah at Oregon, Sept. 1

69. Texas at Missouri, Oct. 24

70. Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3

71. East Carolina at West Virginia, Sept. 12

72. Kansas at Texas, Nov. 21

73. Miami at USF, Nov. 28

74. Boise State at Fresno State, Sept. 18

75. Central Michigan at Bowling Green, Oct. 24

76. West Virginia at Rutgers, Dec. 5

77. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Oct. 10

78. Cincinnati at Oregon State, Sept. 19

79. Boise State at Tulsa, Oct. 14

80. N.C. State at Florida State, Oct. 31

81. USF at Rutgers, Nov. 12

82. Utah at BYU, Nov. 28

83. Ole Miss at Auburn, Oct. 31

84. Miami at North Carolina, Nov. 14

85. Florida Atlantic at South Carolina, Sept. 19

86. Michigan State at Wisconsin, Sept. 26

87. Oregon State at Cal, Nov. 7

88. Auburn at Georgia, Nov. 14

89. North Carolina at N.C. State, Nov. 28

90. Florida State at BYU, Sept. 19

91. Miami at Virginia Tech, Sept. 26

92. Oregon State at Oregon, Dec. 3

93. Notre Dame at Pitt, Nov. 14

94. Texas Tech at Houston, Sept. 26

95. Michigan at Michigan State, Oct. 3

96. Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Nov. 5

97. Baylor at Wake Forest, Sept. 5

98. West Virginia at Auburn, Sept. 19

99. Central Michigan at Michigan State, Sept. 12

100. Missouri vs. Kansas in Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 28

101. Troy at Arkansas State, Sept. 26

102. Texas at Baylor, Nov. 14


Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.



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