Since the State Fair of Texas officially announced their historic decision to cancel the beloved event for the first time in 100 years, questions have been circulating about the always-anticipated Red River Rivalry game between the Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners as the game is held at the historic Cotton Bowl located on the fair grounds in Dallas, Texas.
The Red River Showdown is known as one of the best rivalry matches in college football. It’s the only Big-12 matchup that does not take place at either of the schools, but instead at a mutual site. The two schools have faced off almost annually since their first meeting on October 10, 1900… nearly 120 years ago for a total of 115 showdowns.
Ahead of the 2019 shootout, Texas head coach Tom Herman outlined just why the rivalry is so important. “There was some public opinion that having the [Big-12] championship game in Dallas… would diminish the mystique if you will of the Red River Showdown and it hasn’t,” Herman said in an interview It’s one of, if not the, greatest rivalries. This one takes the cake just because of it being interstate rivals. The two states in general don’t get along. To have it at such a historic venue… I think it’s cool it’s always on our soil. Everything that surrounds the game makes it one of, if not the, best.”
The crowd at the Cotton Bowl is split into two distinct halves each year. Fans in crimson sit in sections 1 to 6 as well as 24 to 36 while burnt orange wearing Texas fans sit in sections 6 through 24 splitting the 50-yard line. The line has been so distinct that they even painted a line running through Fair Park to the Cotton Bowl; half being claimed by the Sooners and the other half claimed by the Longhorns.
According to the State Fair’s release, the cancelation of the fair will not impact the 2020 rivalry match. Instead, the fate of the game will lay in the hands of the NCAA, Big-12, and the two schools when it comes time to make a decision about the season.
“While the State Fair of Texas is canceled for 2020, the NCAA, respective conferences, and participating universities — the University of Texas & University of Oklahoma and Prairie View A&M University & Grambling State University — will be in charge of making decisions regarding the football games that occur at Cotton Bowl Stadium during this unprecedented time of COVID-19,” the statement read. “Should football be played this fall, the schools will be playing in the Cotton Bowl as schedules, despite the cancellation of the 2020 State Fair. We will share those details as soon as we know more.”
Texas athletic director, Chris Del Conte, released a statement regarding everyone’s concerns: “Though we certainly respect and understand the decision of the folks in Dallas on their cancellation of this year’s State Fair of Texas, we fully anticipate that our annual Red River Showdown with Oklahoma will be played in the Cotton Bowl and are continuing to prepare for that.”
Oklahoma’s athletic director Joe Castiglione shared in his respect for the difficult decision made regarding the State Fair of Texas and added “Our hope remains that we can play the OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl, but obviously every aspect of our season requires constant monitoring and planning. The best thing all of us can do at this time is closely follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus.”
The last time Texas and Oklahoma did not play each other was in 1928; should the game be cancelled the decision would not only be difficult, but historic. In 120 years, the only years that did not see the Longhorn-Sooner matchup were 1918, 1920, 1921, and 1924-1928.
While Texas leads Oklahoma in the series with a 62-48-5 record, the Sooners have won four of the last five meetings (not counting the 2018 Big-12 Championship in which they fell 39-27 to the Longhorns).
Both schools seem extremely hopeful that the game will still be held. For now, fans, athletes, coaches, and all involved wait with bated breath and differing views for any answers regarding the return of Fall sporting competitions.