Red River takes a backseat in 2010

Yesterday, the Oct. 16 matchup between Nebraska and Texas took a spin through the hype machine, with yours truly and columnists Pat Forde and Mark Schlabach weighing in on what should be the most heated matchup of the 2010 season.

But all that talk spawned this e-mail and a few others with similar sentiments, which argues that Oklahoma-Texas still hangs onto its annual spot as the Big 12's marquee game:

Paul in Kansas City wrote: Look David, I understand that Nebraska-Texas is a huge game. But take a straw poll of nearly any Big 12 fan, and the Red River Rivalry is still bigger. OU-Texas haven't suddenly stopped hating each other more than any other school. Seriously, I guarantee at least 9 out of 10 people think the RRR is a bigger game. Please... just ask the blog. (Not to mention the fact that if OU wins, then the TX-NE game suddenly loses a lot of its luster). The bottom line is that you need to admit you are wrong.

Sorry, Paul. Not this year. The Red River Rivalry bakes year-round at a toasty 350 degrees, but the realignment hijinks and Nebraska's clear placement of blame on Texas in its argument for a farewell to the Big 12 have ratcheted up the oven dial to 900-degree, self-cleaning mode. A second helping in the Big 12 title game may only be more intense. Lincoln is already home to the best game experience in the Big 12, but I'm expecting an environment unlike any other in college football for that heavyweight tilt.

An Oklahoma victory in Dallas would tarnish the buildup slightly, but Nebraska's impending exit from the Big 12 assures the big-picture animosity will show up in Lincoln, even if Texas shows up with a loss. Fifteen years of disdain for the Longhorns came to a head this summer. Now they'll have a finale on the field.

If both teams are undefeated, it'll have two great, hard-hitting defenses, two top 10 -- possibly top 5 -- teams and plenty of pride and national title implications on the line. (Side note: What it won't have? A sweet name. Got one? Send it to my mailbag, and I'll run the best suggestions for this year's game between Texas and Nebraska)

That lineup sounds a bit like every year at the Texas State Fair, doesn't it? But what pushes this game over the edge is its finality. No matter what happens between Oklahoma and Texas, they'll be back again in 12 months to do it all over again. You can't say that for Nebraska and Texas.

Even if the two meet again in the Big 12 Championship, they won't see each other again in the foreseeable future. Tough to battle for bigger bragging rights than that.

So, sorry Red River. You'll be back in 2011, bigger and more important than ever in a probably division-less Big 12. But this year, you're taking a backseat to the yet-unnamed matchup (seriously, we need some good suggestions) between the Huskers and Horns on Oct. 16.