Port Arthur sports legend Joe Washington Jr. weighs in on Red River Rivalry

Published 12:14 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

Many locally and the across the state are pulling for the University of Texas on Saturday during the Allstate Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl.

Yet, one Port Arthur sports legend, has got his eyes trained on the Oklahoma Sooners.

Joe Washington Jr. — a star at Lincoln High School in the late 60s and early 70s — went on to a decorated college run in Norman, Oklahoma, that included a third place finish in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1974 and a fifth place showing in 1975.

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He was a two time First-team All-American and finished his career at Oklahoma with 4,071 career rushing yards. It earned him status in the College Football Hall of Fame.

“It is always going to be noisy, you hear me?” Washington joked with Port Arthur Newsmedia this week when talking about the Red River Rivalry. “It is split right down the middle. Somebody is always going to be happy, and somebody is always going to be sad.”

Washington said in his college days, both football teams walked down the tunnel together, which only heightened the magnitude of the moment.

Last year’s game was decidedly one-sided as Texas defeated Oklahoma 49-0.

Now, 2023 has both teams entering this weekend’s matchup undefeated.

The Sooners (5-0) have only given up 54 points on the season, an average of 10.8 points per contest.

“We had a deficiency in our defense (in 2022) in not being able to put pressure on the quarterback, blitzing or being aggressive,” Washington said. “We’ve done a better job this year.

“And, you know, Texas has stepped it up a little bit, too. And, then, we got a shellacking last year. That, in itself, should be a little incentive for our guys. You know what I mean?”

Played in Dallas for the 95th consecutive year, the game kicks off in the Cotton Bowl at 11 a.m. on ABC.

Texas is ranked in the top four of the AP (No. 3) and Coaches (No. 4) polls for the first time since the final poll of the 2009 season. The Longhorns are 5-0 on the year, the first time UT has been unbeaten through five games since 2009.
Texas and Oklahoma are meeting as undefeated opponents for the first time since 2011.

“It’s one of the greatest football games of all time,” Washington said. “You are talking about two storied programs that have been playing each other for a long time, and they play each other at a neutral site. A neutral site that is evenly divided.”