Opinion: If Oklahoma game wasn’t top priority, it should be now

The Red River Rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners is the one game Texas can ill afford to lose in the 2024 season. If you weren’t sold on that premise, perhaps the Damonic Williams recruitment made it sink in.

Williams chose the Sooners over the Longhorns on Thursday. In the grand scheme of Texas’ playoff hopes it has as little bearing as last season’s 34-30 loss to Oklahoma did. Nevertheless, both losses should heighten the urgency of the upcoming matchup with the Sooners.

The Longhorns need to want to beat Oklahoma as much as their rival wants to beat Texas.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian understood the magnitude of an Alabama win last offseason. Thursday’s head-to-head portal loss might be the gentle reminder Sarkisian needs to prioritize Oklahoma over Georgia as he prepares his team over the summer.

Like it or not, Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables built recruiting momentum off defeating the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. It is perhaps the only accomplishment of note for Venables in his time in Oklahoma though some would tout its 10-win season over a lesser than usual schedule. The upset win is noteworthy because of the season Texas had in 2023.

Texas’ win over Alabama had national ramifications, but the Red River Rivalry carries plenty of weight in its own right. The state of Texas, the Longhorns most fertile recruiting ground, will be watching when the team takes on Oklahoma in October.

The Red River game matters in recruiting. Former Oklahoma commit Colton Vasek flipped to Texas after the 2022 game. This offseason, Venables and company are riding the wave of an exhilarating win in the Cotton Bowl. The Longhorns need to flip the narrative in 2024.

The lowlight of Texas’ season was the highlight of Oklahoma’s in 2023. The Longhorns went on to win a conference title and make a playoff berth. The Sooners fumbled a 7-0 start before missing the Big 12 title on losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State. Still, the lowlight is carrying some weight with players in state.

Certainly, nobody credible thinks the Kansas Jayhawks or Oklahoma State Cowboys are better than the Sooners. Upsets happen. An upset happened in the Cotton Bowl. It can’t happen again in Sarkisian’s fourth season in Austin.

Oklahoma is a must-win game for Sarkisian and Texas. They will look to get the upper hand in the third meeting between Sarkisian and Venables as head coaches of the two rivals.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire