The flames thickened the already humid air as their warm, orange glow illuminated cheering and smiling faces of students, faculty, alumni and other members of the University community marching toward the UT Tower Wednesday night in preparation of Saturday’s football game against Oklahoma.
“We’re really excited to be here as seniors, and we’re hoping that the game on Saturday is going to go in our favor,” said public relations senior Victoria Garcia, a Texas Sweethearts member.
This year is the 100th year since the annual torchlight parade and pep rally, originally started in 1916 by the Texas Exes to boost school spirit before the Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M game. For the past 30 years, the tradition falls before the long-anticipated Texas versus OU game in Dallas, or more commonly called the Red River Rivalry.
The trek started at 25th Street and Whitis Avenue, and crowds of fans and student organizations chanted alongside cheerleaders above the University’s blaring showband. The sound of “OU sucks” outbursts and enthusiastic chatter moved down Guadalupe and stopped on the East Mall for the pep rally.
Economic senior Michael Dwyer, Texas Hellraisers president, delivered a fiery speech before an ensemble of dance performances. As a senior, Dwyer said he has seen the UT community unite closer to the game when rivalry tensions flare.
“It’s really nice seeing the University come together and for one cause,” Dwyer said. “That’s hating Sooners.”
At the pep rally, coaches and teammates urged community and a morale upswing to lead the team to victory.
Texas won last year’s game with a 24-17 win over OU, and this year, both universities have had two wins and two losses this season.
UT lost to Oklahoma State 31-49 last weekend and before that to the California Golden Bears, 43-50.
“The last two games have not been very pleasant for us,” football head coach Charlie Strong said at the pep rally.
“But I tell you this: We’re going to get back on track on Saturday,” Strong said.
The night concluded with the final note of the “Eyes of Texas,” led by the Texas Orange Jackets accompanied by a resounding boom of fireworks from above.
Texas will face Oklahoma 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.