DALLAS — Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and it’s a darned good thing he does. Else, whose would it be Saturday in the Cotton Bowl? Sooners want to repay Longhorns. Longhorns want to repay Sooners. Heck, if you didn’t know any better about this double revenge game, you’d think ties were back in college football. "I’m sure they’re a little bit bitter,” Sam Bradford said of the ‘Horns, "but if they’re bitter, we’re bitter, because they beat us.” Strange but true. In 2008, OU lost to Texas but won. Texas beat the Sooners but lost. Oklahoma beat out the Longhorns for the Big 12 South Division title. The infamous three-way tiebreak broke OU’s way, resulting in an array of wild emotions and antics. And now, on college football’s 38th parallel, the green grass of the Cotton Bowl, the ancient rivals meet again. "Could be weird,” said OU passcatcher Brandon Caleb. "But that all goes to the side when the game starts.” Maybe to the sidelines. Not into the crowd. Not into the half crimson, half burnt orange stands where this holy war is staged every October. Sooners are outraged that Texas has won three of four in the series, including a 45-35 barnburner in 2008. Longhorns are outraged that OU got to play in the BCS title game and didn’t so much as apologize for it. There hasn’t been this kind of sniping in the series since the infamous tie of 1984 or even the bad blood between Darrell Royal and Barry Switzer in 1976. All of this talk is for folks who don’t wear shoulder pads. Media and fans, we love this stuff. Maybe the players do, too, I don’t know, but they can’t afford to dwell on it, lest they get dump-trucked in the first 15 seconds of the game. "I don’t know what Texas is thinking, but I know the University of Oklahoma football team is thinking about this year, not last year,” said Sooner defensive tackle G.K. McCoy. Bob Stoops is more than happy to leave vengeance to the Lord. "We don’t get into revenge stuff,” Stoops said. "I don’t think that’s ever a good motivation.” Stoops says payback talk is a sign of disrespect. "All of a sudden, they had no business beating you?” Stoops asked. "I don’t get into that.” Well, his brother Mike seemed to think different in 2003 when he reveled in OU’s 52-9 Bedlam rout, after two straight losses to Oklahoma State. "Everyone makes a big deal about it,” Bob Stoops said of revenge. "But in the end, the objective is the championship. In the end, it all gets down to winning not just this game, but the rest of ‘em.” Besides, revenge doesn’t seem to play well in this series of streaks. Only five times since 1935 has a school in this series gone win-loss-win in any three-game span. If OU wins, the sequence for the Sooners the last four years is loss-win-loss-win. Not since 1914-17 has this series produced such an A-B-A-B pattern. If vengeance mattered on the field, you’d think we’d have a different winner almost every year. But vengeance matters in the stands, where both sides demand a pound of flesh for the events of 2008. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.
BAD BLOODThe 2008 season, in which Texas beat OU but the Sooners won a three-way tiebreaker to represent the South Division in the Big 12 title game, prompted bad blood to rival two other bitter OU-Texas events: →1984: Ranked No. 1 and 2, the teams tied 15-15, but only after Texas kicked a field goal on the last play of the game following a Keith Stanberry interception that was mistakenly ruled incomplete in the end zone. You can still hear the anger in Barry Switzer’s voice when he talks about it a quarter century later. →1976: UT coach Darrell Royal accused (accurately) OU of spying on a Longhorn practice. Switzer and Royal then exchanged insults. Switzer said Royal would rather spend time around "guitar-pickers” than work hard. Royal called Switzer and assistant Larry Lacewell "sorry bastards.” The tension-filled game ended in a 6-6 tie. BY BERRY TRAMEL