There are simply not enough adjectives to accurately describe the experience as a fan to witness a Texas/OU game or as a member of the media covering the game.
I know everyone across the country who is passionate about college football believes their rivalry is unique and the most heated, but from what I've seen nothing compares to the Longhorns & Sooners annual grudge match at the Cotton Bowl.
I've been a fan and covered several Stephen F. Austin rivalry games vs Sam Houston, SFA vs Northwestern State (play for Chief Caddo-largest standing trophy in college football), Bedlams (OU vs OSU), Rice vs Houston (Bayou Bucket), Arkansas vs LSU, and Nebraska vs OU.
None of the above come close to what transpires and leads up to the Red River Shootout.
As soon as you drive into Dallas or drive up to the Cotton Bowl from your hotel immediately you smell what the State Fair of Texas is cooking. Trust me, all of it is NOT heart healthy. All of your senses are locked in. From the cotton candy, Fletcher Corny Dogs freshly battered and fried, fried everything including fried Dr. Pepper, bbq, and roasted corn.
Once you're parked, the walk up to the old girl in The Cotton Bowl stadium is one you admire and feel priviledged to make. You feel the history as you walk through the State Fairgrounds.
As a media member, you check in outside of the end zone where the famous tunnel is located.
Fans are lined up, talking smack to one another. Burnt orange and crimson is everywhere. The screams of the ferris wheel and other rides are mixed in with the touting between the Longhorn Nation and Sooner Nation.
Next, is the arrival of the teams 2.5 hours before kickoff on their busses. The route is literally through the fairgrounds and ends at the tunnel end zone gates and into the lockerrooms.
Fans lineup from both sides. Hatred words are directed to the opposing team's bus not to mention hand signs with middle fingers are given from both genders of all ages. Sometimes when the busses come to a halt opposing fans will shake the bus.
Once each team unloads, the intensity picks up. It's at this time you realize this isn't just a football game. This is all about state pride and the desire to win.
Once on the field it's pure amazement as you see the split 50/50 of the stadium. Half crimson and half burnt orange.
The highlight of the pre-game hands down is the action in the tunnel. The entrances into the lockerrooms face the other across the way at the top of the tunnel.
Once kickoff is near, the two teams enter the tunnel with anxious energy and intensity as they glare into the eyes of the other team. Several words are exchanged. Fingers pointed to each other. It's at that point you know it's real. A football war is about to happen.
The sounds of Boomer Sooner & Texas Fight begin as the teams enter the field. U.T. is greeted by the Sooner Nation who occupy the end zone above and around the tunnel. Words are exchanged, ones which would make a mom blush.
You hear endless chants of "OU....SUCKS!" and "TEXAS...SUCKS!"
Then it's on! Gametime!
Momentum turns, several of them. The volume of the crowd is at a pitch I can't explain. It's deafening.
To the winner awaits a celebration similar to that of relief and similar to winning a national championship. The Golden Hat Trophy is raised by the team and the actual Golden Hat is passed around and placed on their heads regardless if it fits.
An overall experience not truly described unless you see it, smell it, and absorb in person.
This will be my 1st as a media member covering the Texas Longhorns.
Each Red River Shootout provides an experience which usually results in a new observation.
An experience which is second to none.