This weekend in Dallas, Texas will attempt to go 1-0.
For Texas, attempting to go 1-0 is more of a rallying cry than a statement of fact. The Longhorns, after all, are currently 4-1. But the meaning behind that often-uttered motto is simple. Don’t look backward. Don’t look ahead. Treat Rice to same way you’d treat TCU, which is the same way you’d treat Texas Tech.
Up next is Oklahoma. But can Texas really look at Oklahoma as just another opponent when it must battle that rival in front of a split crowd at the Cotton Bowl?
“(We try to) focus on the inside noise of what’s going on with the team and what we’ve got to do just to win this next game and go 1-0 this week,” junior offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter said. “That’s just our biggest focus. Just get rid of the outside noise and turn up our inside noise a little bit more.”
It’s unlikely that Kerstetter was ever going to root for Oklahoma. The versatile lineman was originally an Oklahoma State commit and he attended a game in the Bedlam series as a high school sophomore.
The Sooners, though, were not his first rival. Kerstetter attended San Antonio Reagan. When Reagan opened in 1999, it siphoned students from nearby Churchill High. That guaranteed that the Rattlers and Chargers would be circled games on each team’s annual schedule. “It was an intense rivalry,” he said.
Senior center and Belton native Zach Shackelford, meanwhile, had Temple as his high school rival. “It was close in proximity and historically it always had been a rival,” he recalled.
After UT defensive end Malcolm Roach transferred from Southern University Laboratory to Madison Prep, friends became foes in Baton Rouge. Remembered Roach: “It was close ties, a lot of people that went to Southern Lab transferred to Madison also. It was basically a lot of friends playing against each other.”
Texas sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram grew up in Carthage. The Bulldogs’ top rival was a Henderson team that Carthage beat 42-17 during his senior year. As a freshman at Texas, Ingram and the Longhorns posted a 48-45 victory at the Cotton Bowl.
“Winning is fun at the end of the day, that’s how I look at it,” Ingram said. “Football is football at the end of the day.”
Ingram told a story on Tuesday about his recruitment in high school. A four-star prospect, he was set to attend an Oklahoma junior day. His younger brother, however, got sick ahead of the drive to Norman and his family called off the trip. Years later, Ingram noted that “I think that’s part of the reason why I’m here.”
Had Ingram made it to Oklahoma and liked what he saw, he may have a different opinion about the Red River Showdown. Instead, he led Texas with his 86 rushing yards in last year’s win. In a Big 12 championship game that was won by Oklahoma, he had 30 yards of total offense.
Texas and Oklahoma have played 114 times since the Longhorns earned a 28-2 victory in 1900, their inaugural meeting. Texas has won 62 of those games and tied another five. Five of the last six meetings between these two schools have been decided by seven points or less.
Oklahoma and Texas played twice last year, and the sixth- and 11th-ranked teams are on a collision course to meet again in the Big 12 championship game. On Tuesday, a few of the Longhorns were asked if the possibility of playing twice a year would temper the excitement of meeting at the Cotton Bowl. Sophomore left tackle Samuel Cosmi did not think so.
“We’re out for blood when it comes to going back and going against these guys,” Cosmi said. “We’re super excited to go against them again.”