Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 27, 2018 at 9:43 pm.

Texas, Oklahoma will leave mutual respect on the sidelines

The 113-game history of meaningful football between Texas and Oklahoma dispel the notion that “familiarity breeds contempt.”

In fact, if there’s anything we’ve learned about the Longhorns and Sooners through the years, it’s just the opposite of that axiom — there’s a mutual respect between the teams, forged by playing the game at a level other programs never experience.

While that’s a given, that familiarity and esprit de corps will be the last thing No. 14 Texas and No. 5 Oklahoma will be thinking about when they square off for the second time this season with the Big 12 championship on the line on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Yes, the Longhorns beat OU earlier this season in the Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, a memorable 48-45 victory produced in the final seconds by the right foot of freshman kicker Cameron Dicker that garnered Texas the famed Golden Hat trophy and — for a while — a spot in the Top 10.

“This is not the Red River Showdown, this is not October,” Texas coach Tom Herman said on Monday at his regular game week media availability. “That game was played in the Cotton Bowl, and that’s played for the Golden Hat, and that one is over.

“Our motivation, I would hope, playing in the conference championship game would be the same were we up against any other opponent,” Herman added. “I think our team believes that and buys into that.”

The Longhorns (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) will be underdogs to Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) in the title game, but that’s not something Herman or his team really consider a slander or a detriment to their preparation.

“We always see ourselves as underdogs,” Herman said.

“We’ve got a little chip on our shoulder. We have a saying, you know, ‘train like you’re the underdog and play like you’re the champ.’ So we relish in that distinction of being the underdog and we take a lot of pride in training like the underdog.

“But I don’t know if there’s something magical we do. My speeches aren’t any different when we’re an underdog versus when we are a favorite. The way we go about our business throughout the week isn’t any different. We’ve got to have a great week. This is a phenomenal opponent, and we’ve got to be at our best.”