- Associated Press - Thursday, September 30, 2010

AUSTIN, TEXAS (AP) - Garrett Gilbert was still walking off the field after losing the national championship game when Texas fans starting looking to the future.

They were pointing all the way to this Saturday and No. 8 Oklahoma.

Gilbert, then a freshman, had been forced to take the field when Colt McCoy got hurt early in the championship game against Alabama and Texas lost 37-21.

If he could play well under that kind of pressure, Texas fans figured, playing the Sooners in the circus of the Cotton Bowl would be easy.

It’s time to find out: Gilbert will lead struggling No. 21 Texas (3-1) into one of college football’s nastiest rivalries, one that has made Longhorns legends out of quarterbacks who win and sent some who lost straight into palookaville.

Earlier this week, Gilbert shrugged off the pressure of the game, then made a rookie mistake when he called Oklahoma’s crimson color “maroon.”

“That atmosphere is unbelievable and that’s why it is one of the best rivalries in college football,” he said.

Beating _ and losing _ to Oklahoma, can leave a permanent legacy for Texas quarterbacks.

Texas was a mediocre 26-19 from 1989-1992, but Peter Gardere earned the nickname “Peter the Great” with four wins over the Sooners. Chris Simms, whose 26 career victories rank fourth in Texas history, is still vilified by some Texas fans after he was part of three straight losses from 2000-2002.

Even Vince Young struggled against Oklahoma. Young was 1-1 as a starter and a 12-0 loss in 2004 snapped a Texas scoring streak that dated to 1980.

Some Longhorns fan even suggested Young move to wide receiver. It was the last game Young lost.

McCoy was 3-1 against the Sooners, winning in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Gilbert was standing on the sideline and wearing a baseball cap in last season’s 16-13 Texas win, taking in the atmosphere of the Cotton Bowl and the intensity of the game.

Texas coach Mack Brown says what Gilbert will face is similar to the national title game. Fans of both teams jam the stadium for a four-hour frenzy, with howls even during time-outs for television. Texas players say the game is the fastest, hardest-hitting contest of the season.

“Growing up watching that game, I know how cool it is,” Gilbert said.

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