This is becoming something of an annual feature for me as we get close to college football season. Nostalgia peaks in mid-August as I look back to some of the memorable times I had from 2016-2019 as an OU student, hoping that maybe I’ll catch some of that lightning in a bottle again. This year, I’m pretty optimistic compared to previous years. Last year there was great football, but great football can only take you so far. For the first time in a while, I have great friends to enjoy the sport with en masse again. So, as the 2022 season approaches, let’s look back on some games that I have reason to remember fondly from my undergrad days.
33. Oklahoma 48, UCLA 14 – 2019
Week 3 of 2019 is one of the fondest memories I think I’ll ever have of *not* attending a football game. OU was way out in the Rose Bowl that evening, and Elizabeth was all the way down in Florida with her friend at Disney World. Lesser men would have pouted at not being invited to go to see Mickey Mouse. I am not lesser men.
Bradley, James, Jason and I watched like 11 consceutive hours of football from their apartment that day. It was incredible. Every game had some sort of entertainment value, from Pitt kicking a field goal on 4th and goal from the 2 down by 7 with 4 minutes left to Mississippi State’s backup QB turning himself into a human helicopter to Maryland finding a way to lose to Temple. And those were just the 11:00 kicks. It got better from there. Michigan State lost because they had too many men on the field for their time-expiring field goal, BYU beat USC, and the dumbest El Assico of all time got delayed like 3 hours because of thunder before ending on this:
We had beer, snacks, and each other. Literally what else could you want? Moriah got off work just in time to join us for the Oklahoma/UCLA game, which was a pretty standard Oklahoma beatdown of an overmatched opponent. Jalen Hurts did whatever he wanted against the Bruin defense, and I’m pretty sure there were more Sooner fans in the stadium than people wearing powder blue. It was all kind of an afterthought on what was probably the greatest day of football viewing of my life, anyway.
32. Oklahoma 51, Texas Tech 46 – 2018
A game that was memorable because I was the hero of an entire sorority for bringing my iPad to the formal so that they could keep an eye on the game. Elizabeth was in charge of planning the formal, and did a great job. Look how cute I look:
In between showing off my dance moves at the formal and stuffing my face with fondue, those of us who wanted to keep an eye out (including Elizabeth’s big, Nicole) were disgusted to see the Sooners play that patented 2018 non-defense. Kyler Murray turned the ball over a few times, and by the time cleanup rolled around, the outcome in Lubbock was very much in doubt at halftime.
But Oklahoma, like they always did in those days, eventually found a way to pull it out. We watched the last few drives from my apartment back at The Edge in Norman as Oklahoma squeaked out an ugly win against a bad Red Raider team that had a backup QB in. It was not a game to remember, but it was a night to remember!
31. Oklahoma 56, Tulane 14 – 2017
Fresh off of their massive win over the Buckeyes in Columbus, Oklahoma returned home with a fresh sense of enthusiasm around the program. They finished off their non-conference slate with a game against afterthought Tulane before getting into the meat of what looked like a CFP-bound season. So of course Oklahoma gave up a long touchdown drive to the Green Wave, and after a long CeeDee Lamb TD, then they did the exact same thing. In fact, Oklahoma didn’t really grab control of the game until Parnell Motley got his hands on the ball for a pick six midway through the second quarter, turning a 14-14 tie into what would eventually be a 56-14 blowout win. It was a beautiful night in Norman – the sun set behind the bleachers early enough in the game to enjoy it from the student section, and Elizabeth and I appeared to have a good time if the photos can be trusted.
One of my clearer and fonder memories comes from late in the game, with me sweating an under ticket in the game that looked like to hit. That is, until Kyler Murray hit Marquise Brown for an 86-yard touchdown well into garbage time. The entire group of people Elizabeth and I went to the game to had a good laugh at my expense. So did I, come to think of it.
30. Texas 48, Oklahoma 45 – 2018
The only loss you’ll ever see this high on the list has to be contextualized a bit. By this point in 2018, it was pretty clear that a certain someone wasn’t going to cut it as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator any longer.
So a loss was a loss was a loss, to some extent. And I can look back on this one more fondly than most because first of all, Oklahoma avenged it later that year. Second of all, the game was bonkers. And third of all, when I was pouting afterwards, at least there was deep-fried pico de gallo.
Tickets to the Red River Shootout cost like $180 for a student. It’s a one-time thing if you’re like me and don’t have daddy’s money paying for them. I went with friends my junior year and found the entire going a little more palatable when James offered to let Elizabeth, McKinsey and myself stay at his parents’ place in downtown Fort Worth the night before. So on our Friday-before-Red-River fake fall break day off, the four of us took Elizabeth’s car down to the DFW area. We spent some time in the Frisco area at the mall (?) and eventually headed to Fort Worth. It was kind of my first time walking around that part of downtown, especially at night – it’s a pretty cool place. Fort Worth has my seal of approval.
The four of us got up at an ungodly early time the next morning to drive one county over from Fort Worth to Dallas to get to the State Fairgrounds. College Gameday was in town, and it’s always worth a trip to see the Gameday set when they’re literally Comin’ To Your Citay. Sort of. In this case, in our haste we didn’t make signs, and parking in downtown Dallas around the Fairgrounds is *super* sketchy, and also James’s mom Estie had given us margaritas the night before that left me perfectly fucked up. I went to the bathroom at one commercial and spent a few minutes deciding whether to vomit or poop my brains out. I chose the latter.
The Red River game starts exactly at 11:00 in the heart of the State Fair, so we left Gameday early to make it in time. Along the way, I passed within 10 feet of Joel Klatt, which is pretty cool. And then we were inside the Cotton Bowl, which is such a unique experience – a historic stadium filled to the brim, half crimson and half burnt orange, with the Dallas skyline looming directly in our background. How could you ask for a better environment for what was an incredible game?
And the game truly was incredible. For a while it looked like the Sooners would have what they wanted, but they went cold just when Texas found its rhythm. And things started to get ugly fast. Outside of a long third-quarter bomb from Murray to Brown, everything came up Longhorns for most of the game. Suddenly, it was 45-24 and all hope seemed lost.
That’s of course when Kyler Murray put the team on his back. He went down the sideline for 70 yards, and when Oklahoma’s team miraculously got a few stops he led them down the field twice more for scores. But he also committed the classic blunder – he scored too soon. Texas still had a little bit of time left, and certainly Oklahoma’s defense could make a couple of stops, but they couldn’t make three in a row. Sam Ehlinger got the Longhorns into field goal range, and Dicker the Kicker became a college legend in the Cotton Bowl. I was ready to pout.
But how could I pout in front of whatever that thing is? How could I pout while I was still holding deep-fried pico de gallo? How could I pout while Elizabeth and I were riding the ferris wheel at the Texas State Fair? Okay, I could pout a little, but there are far worse things to do after watching your team suffer a crushing defeat in person