Texas and Oklahoma will play each other on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, continuing a Red River Rivalry tradition that's been acted out every year since 1929. Amid a State Fair of Texas that features the country's most dazzling collection of fried foods, the Longhorns and Sooners will play football just like they always do. It's beautiful.
But the specifics about this year's teams are less romantic. Texas started 2-0 but they've lapsed with back-to-back losses behind a brutal defense, and now there's real heat on third-year head coach Charlie Strong. Oklahoma entered the season as a top-tier Playoff contender, but convincing early losses to Houston and Ohio State (as good as those teams are) have knocked OU from the ranks of the country's best teams.
Winning on Saturday won't cure everything for either Texas or Oklahoma, so much as it'll be a momentary salve. Both teams have a long way to go to get where they'd like to go, but beating the other would be a perfectly good start.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: Noon ET, FS1. The broadcasters are Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, and Shannon Spake.
Online streaming: Fox Sports GO
Spread: Oklahoma has moved to about an 11-point favorite.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at Burnt Orange Nation or Barking Carnival (for Horns fans) and Crimson and Cream Machine (for Sooners fans).
Three big things to know
1. Oklahoma's got a lot of problems, and its defense is the biggest one. Urban Meyer said this week that OU's defense was worst than Indiana's, which would be insulting if it weren't likely true. Oklahoma's defense has been mediocre or worse through the first month, and it hasn't been able to stop good offenses. Texas has a good offense, so this game could get sticky for Mike Stoops' troops.
2. Texas's defense is even worse. The Longhorns are giving up 38 points per game, letting opponents move the ball an average of 6 yards per snap. Strong reportedly stripped defensive coordinator Vance Bedford of his play-calling duties after last week's loss to Oklahoma State, which doesn't tend to be a great sign for whatever's coming next.
3. There could be some fun in the quarterbacks, though. Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield is one of the country's best dual threats. Texas freshman Shane Buechele is one its best young gun-slingers, and veteran Tyrone Swoopes has found some success as a power runner. The shortcomings of both defenses make it likely we'll see more good work from the guys under center, and it won't be surprising if any number of Mayfield, Buechele, and Swoopes have a big afternoon.