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Saturday, October 11, 2008
Pregame report from the Cotton Bowl


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- It's hard to believe that the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry could get any bigger.

But first glance inside the renovated Cotton Bowl gives the stadium an even larger big-game feeling. A new facade outside has given the storied old stadium a completely different look. The stadium is now enclosed, making it feel like a real football stadium. Something tells me it's going to rock once the spectators start arriving. A record crowd of more than 92,000 is expected for today's game.

I only saw one scuffle between Texas and Oklahoma fans and it was relatively tame compared to many of the donnybrooks I've seen on the midway over the years. Of course, it's still early and they haven't started selling beer yet. There's hardly a line at the corny dog stands, either.

Here are some of the things I'll be watching for, once the game starts.

Injuries: Both teams are relatively healthy. Whittaker's return is big for Texas, looking for some balance to keep from using McCoy so much as a running threat. Oklahoma defensive tackles DeMarcus Granger (foot) and Gerald McCoy (toe) and defensive end Frank Alexander (stab wound on arm) all are expected to play and add depth to the Sooners' defensive front. Center Jon Cooper (knee) is expected to play, although the status of Oklahoma backup tackle Branndon Braxton, who missed the Baylor game with an undisclosed injury, is questionable.

Weather: It's expected to be a hot, muggy day with temperatures in the 80s at kickoff. There's a 20 percent chance of rain, but any precipitation should blow through after the game is over.