DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — It’s his first trip crossing the Red River to play Texas, so Oklahoma Sooner fans are giving quarterback Jalen Hurts a pass for not making a big deal about Saturday’s showdown at the Cotton Bowl.
This whole big game business is nothing new to Hurts. As Alabama’s quarterback, he played in three national championship games and the annual Iron Bowl against Auburn. The graduate transfer sees Saturday’s opponent as simply the next one.
“It’s all external factors,” he said. “Nobody’s going to change the way I think about something, what I tell my teammates or how we’re going to approach it. We’re going to continue to approach it by trying to go 1-0 every week.”
Everyone else is fired up over a game that will affect the Big 12 and College Football Playoff races. The sixth-ranked Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) and 11th-ranked Longhorns (4-1, 2-0) probably can’t afford a loss in Dallas if they want a shot at a national title.
Even without all the added stakes, this is a game that always gets circled on the calendar.
“What I am not is not one to downplay a rivalry game,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “To ignore the implications, I think, is naive as a coach and is make-believe. I also will say that my thrill in terms of a Saturday is not limited to rivalry games either. But I have a great appreciation for the opponent, what it means to this university.”
The game also will likely affect the Heisman Trophy race since Hurts is among the likely contenders and Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger could push his way into the conversation.
Texas won last year’s regular-season matchup, but Oklahoma won the rematch 39-27 in the Big 12 title game.
Longhorns left tackle Sam Cosmi said Texas has unfinished business with the Sooners. And though Oklahoma enters the game ranked No. 1 nationally in total offense and No. 2 in scoring offense, the Longhorns believe they have the answers.
“They have a really explosive offense and are a really good team overall. I won’t take that away from them,” Cosmi said. “But I don’t think they’ve played anyone like us.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)