SHOWDOWN IN DALLAS

Texas-Oklahoma: The Red River Rivalry is back

Tom Herman has UT ranked. Tim Warner/Getty Images

 

The Red River Shootout is back. No, I know the name isn't back on the game, they call it all sorts of less-awesome names now. But believe me, Texas and Oklahoma are going to put the turn of the century feel back into this game. 

Texas and Oklahoma both enter this game ranked for the first time since 2012. Not that the little numbers matter all that much, Texas has pulled off a couple of upsets in that time, but the feel of this game is much closer to 18 years ago when Oklahoma was a powerhouse and Texas was coming up fast. It feels closer to 13 years ago when Texas had turned the Big 12 burnt orange and knocked down Oklahoma. The conference, coaches, and players are ready to ignite thing game again. 

The Big 12 is far closer to being the conference of a decade ago than it the past five years. Oklahoma and Texas are ranked and another team in the conference is making noise. That role has been played by a few teams, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State but also the departed Nebraska and Missouri on occasion. This year it is West Virginia. They could trip up both the Longhorns and the Sooners but the rest of the conference is a fringe top 35 team at best. The conference waves have started to shift back to the two powerhouses in Austin and Norman. Both have a legit shot at the conference championship and if West Virginia falters we could see this rematch played in the title game. 

The coaching is finally on par with the recent history as well. Lincoln Riley has done an amazing job taking over for Bob Stoops when he surprisingly retired. The Sooners have boasted one of the most terrifying offenses in football under Riley and this year also displays amazing firepower. The coaching at Oklahoma never faltered, that was all on Texas. Mack Brown's tenure was a disaster late and hiring Charlie Strong was the wrong move, but Texas has their guy. Tom Herman has the potential to be one of the names in college football at Texas. He's had some hiccups sure, but there's plenty to like about his tenure so far. He has a ways to go, losses to Maryland and Texas Tech at home are unacceptable for the Texas football program, but he's shown signs. His only losses outside of those were to ranked teams and only TCU was a game where Texas wasn't competitive. 

Oklahoma has done its part in putting premier players in this game the past few years. This year is no different. Kyler Murray is a Heisman contender and he has no trouble finding Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. Caden Sterns brings people back to the conversation of Texas being defensive back university and Sam Elhinger is far from the David Ash, Case McCoy, and Tyrone Swoopes era. This is the most important element. It finally feels like a lot of players from both teams will be transitioning to Sundays and succeeding there as well. 

This game used to be a marked on the calendar affair. It was one of the preeminent rivalry games in college football. An early season clash with national championship implications. Sometime in the past five or six years, it has really lost its luster. The game has tumbled from the marquee to be buried under games with less meaning and less history. This is the first year of the comeback. It might not seem like it Saturday, but in years to come, this is the game we will all remember as the start of Red River Success. 

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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