This is a story about logic and emotion, and a big rock in the middle of the road.
There are two major factors that drive our lives. One is logic, and the other is emotion.
First, let's take the logical view of this weekend's renewal of the Texas-Oklahoma series.
To start with, it is the first time in the history of the series that both teams have been this good for this long, simultaneously. Three of the last four years, both teams have been ranked in the nation's top five, which is something that has only happened nine times, and the closest to this window was 1975-79, when both were there three times in five years.
In the last five years of the BCS final poll, Texas is the ONLY team in the country to be ranked in every single poll, which ranks the nation's top 15 teams at the end of the regular season. The Sooners have done it four times, Miami four, Florida State four, but when it comes to consistent excellence for five years, Texas is the only team in the nation to post every single time.
If you remove the results of the Texas-Oklahoma game over the last three years, here is the logical fact: Texas has a better record than Oklahoma. The Longhorns are 32-4, with losses to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game, to Texas Tech, to Arkansas and to Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
The Sooners are 32-6, with losses to Nebraska, Oklahoma State (twice), Texas A&M, Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game and LSU in the Sugar Bowl.
During that time and excluding the Red River Shootout head-to-head matchups, Texas and Oklahoma have both won or tied for the Big 12 South Division twice. In that period, Oklahoma has lost four regular season Big 12 games, and Texas only one. The Longhorns only defeat outside of the Red River Shootout came in Lubbock to Texas Tech (42-38) in 2002.
Both teams have lost Big 12 championship games. Last year, Oklahoma got into the National Championship game by percentage points for a quality win gained in the BCS poll by beating Texas, which finished seventh in the BCS. In 2001, Texas could have made the Championship game even though it lost to Colorado, but its loss to Oklahoma knocked it out of the game.
I think you get where we are going here.
Oklahoma has been the big rock that has been blocking the road. By beating Texas, the Sooners earned the right to play for the National Championship and denied Texas that chance twice in the last three years. Following the game in October, Texas has lost one conference regular season game, Oklahoma has lost four.
All of that, however, is locked away in logic. It even tells us that it is not unusual in big series, or specifically in this series, for there to be winning streaks and losing streaks.
In football, hours are spent logically. There is preparation, strategy, conditioning, knowing what to do and when. But a huge amount of the game of football is emotion. There is very little logic in a game where people line up and hit each other for three hours. You do that to win, you do that for emotion.
Which leads us to where we are today. This weekend's game is about pride, and it is about respect. And there in lies the rock in the road.
Texas Longhorn football has done immense things over the last three years. The program is in the best shape that it has been in 20, maybe 30 years. What it hasn't done is get rid of the boulder that is blocking its path.
I once likened streaks to a pendulum on a clock. And what we know about pendulums is that when the stress at the flash point gets strong enough, it pulls the metal disc back in the other direction.
The late Bob Bryant understood about streaks, and he also understood about emotion. In 1958, Texas had lost 9 of its last 10 games to Oklahoma, including a run of six straight. In contrast to today, where both teams are among the nation's elite, Texas was trying to regain some stature. Since Texas' last victory over Oklahoma, the Sooners had been the scourge of college football, reeling off 47 straight wins at one point and posting a 68-3-1 record.
Darrell Royal was in his second year at Texas. Bob Bryant was a senior end, and he was solid into emotion.
"We were tired of Oklahoma kicking us around," he would say years later. "We were determined that they had beaten us about as many years as they were going to. We were tired of being embarrassed. Every once in a while, you have to get bare-knuckled and mean, and win because you want to."
The record will show that Texas won, 15-14, and Texas went on to win 12 of 13. Bob Bryant caught the game winning pass.
This season, Oklahoma is favored to win the game. Both teams have good players, and both are well-coached. Regardless of the outcome, both will likely still be a factor in the national picture at the end of the season. All of that is logical.
In the realm of logic, what Texas has done is tap emotion. It is has discovered its identity.
"We know who we are," Mack Brown has said, adding, "I don't know how good we are, but we know what we are going to try to do. In the past, we have gotten away from that in this game, and tried to be too many things. If we play well, we have a chance."
It is perfectly possible that Oklahoma will win again. It is also logical that at some point, the force will bring the pendulum back. And when it does, it will be emotion that pulls it so.
And what we know is, rocks in the road are blown away, not with logic (although you must have a plan), but with effort.
And, after all, with emotion.