DALLAS — Consider it a sign of how much Bob Stoops and Mack Brown have raised the bar in the Red River Rivalry when Oklahoma and Texas are playing each other without any real national title implications.
For the first time since 1999, when Stoops was in his first season coaching the Sooners and Brown was in Year 2 at Texas, neither team will be ranked in the top 10 for today's clash at the Cotton Bowl. It's just the second time in 15 years both teams arrive with a conference loss — both at home, no less.
Yet there's still plenty on the line when the No. 13 Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) and No. 15 Longhorns (4-1, 1-1) square off for the 107th time in one of college football's most colorful rivalries.
First of all, it's a struggle for Big 12 survival with No. 5 West Virginia (which beat Texas) and No. 6 Kansas State (which beat Oklahoma) leading the pack. And maybe, just maybe, the winner keeps the glimmer of hope alive that enough teams lose to make a national title a possibility.
Even if all players had to look forward to was putting the Golden Hat trophy on their heads, that would be enough.
"All the games are fun for me, but this one hits me deep," Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "This is a good rivalry. It's rich."
Since Stoops and Brown have been around, the rivalry has reached a new level — such that a game pitting two top-15 teams is a tiny bit of a letdown.
"It's one of the biggest games of the season. We all look forward to this game," Sooners defensive end David King said. "The atmosphere, there's nothing like it."
Let King tell you about it.
For participants, the experience starts with a bus ride to the stadium, inside the State Fair of Texas. Fans from both teams will surround the buses, hardly holding back their opinions.
"You get so many middle fingers it's ridiculous," King said.
The atmosphere is colorful, inside the Cotton Bowl and outside, where people find the fair's traditional corny dogs and funnel cakes. The stands are split along the 50-yard line with Texas' burnt orange on one side and Oklahoma crimson on the other.
ARKANSAS: An attorney for coach John L. Smith said a computer error in his bankruptcy case is behind what appeared to be a huge jump in his debt. Smith's initial Chapter 7 filing in September listed $25.7 million in debt. He later amended that to $40.7 million, blaming land deals gone bad in Kentucky.
AUBURN: Clint Moseley starts at quarterback today against Mississippi, replacing Kiehl Frazier.
OREGON: Senior defensive tackle Isaac Remington was suspended indefinitely after he was cited for driving under the influence. Eugene police say Remington was pulled over early Friday.
CHAMPIONS BOWL: New Orleans and Dallas are even in their competition to land the bowl, cbssports.com reported. The game, which is scheduled to start in the 2014 season, would pit the SEC and Big 12 winners.
BASKETBALL: North Carolina State officials stopped a public scrimmage when the grandfather of senior Scott Wood fell ill at courtside and was carried away on a stretcher. Team spokesman Dwayne Harrison said Wood's grandfather had been taken to a hospital for evaluation. His name wasn't immediately available.