Texas vs. Oklahoma: Biggest X-Factors in 2012 Edition of Red River Rivalry

Ian BergCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2012

Texas vs. Oklahoma: Biggest X-Factors in 2012 Edition of Red River Rivalry

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    The Red River Rivalry is just days away with No. 15 Texas and No. 13 Oklahoma preparing to square off in one of the biggest rivalry games of the season. Each year there are x-factors that determine the outcome of this game.

    Both teams have a lot at stake in the game as they battle for Big-12 position. Oklahoma has struggled at times this season, and Texas has looked better than it has in recent years.

    The money is heading in Oklahoma’s direction surprisingly, but the major x-factors look to favor Texas. This game will have to be won and lost on the field, but before kickoff comes, here are the x-factors that will determine the game’s outcome. 

Landry Jones Has to Stay Poised

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    Landry Jones is having a very good year for the Sooners. He has only thrown two interceptions, tossed seven touchdowns and Jones has only been sacked six total times this year. 

    Jones is also completing 63.3 percent of his passes, and has 1,032 yards through the air. It has been a typical Landry Jones performance. He has always been a steady performer for the Sooners. 

    Where Jones has struggled is in the big game. Jones has consistently completed over 60 percent of his passes in his career, but there have been some serious stinker performances where he has completed at 50 percent or below. 

    This is a huge stage game for Jones. He led the Sooners to a 55-17 win a year ago so he knows how to beat Texas. He has to keep his poise and stand firm in the pocket and not let this become one of those hiccup games that seem to come with every season. 

David Ash Finding Playmakers

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    David Ash started off his Texas career on a bit of a rocky path with tough 2011 campaign. He threw eight interceptions and only four touchdowns last season. He also only completed 56.9 percent of his passes. 

    This year Ash has been very good for the Longhorns. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and only one interception, and Ash is completing 77.5 percent of his passes to date. 

    Ash has been very efficient with his throws, earning a QB rating of 180.1, helping Texas hold the No. 5 position in passing efficiency. 

    Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis has been among the most productive receivers in the country, and David Ash will find them early.

Texas Rushing Attack

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    The Texas rushing attack has marched to 209.4 yards a game on the ground, placing them as the No. 28 rushing attack in the country so far this season. Oklahoma is putting the No. 56 rushing defense on the field, giving up 142.5 yards per game on the ground. 

    Malcolm Brown is averaging 6.1 yards per carry for Texas, while teammate Joe Bergeron is averaging 4.3 yards a carry. Bergeron has also added nine rushing touchdowns to the Longhorns stat line.

    Oklahoma will have to really raise its level of play upfront defensively to win this game. If the Texas running backs are able to control the clock and flow of the game, the Sooners will have a long day.

Texas Defensive Line

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    Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor are looking forward to this game. Both Okafor and Jeffcoat will have a lot to play for against the Sooners, considering this Texas team gave up 55 points to the Sooners last year. 

    The Longhorns are No. 28 in the country in sacks and No. 9 in tackles for loss. Oklahoma is No. 71 in sacks allowed. This defensive line is salivating. 

    The Longhorns are not extremely potent against the run this year. They are ranked No. 83 in the country at stopping the run; the Stanford offense is ranked No. 36 in rushing offense. 

    Texas can’t afford to give up big yards on the ground. If they do, the pressure on Jones will drop as the Longhorns shuffle to stop the bleeding. The Texas defensive line will be a major key to a win or a loss for the Longhorns. 

Turnover Margin

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    The key to almost every football game is turnovers. Whoever comes away winning the turnover battle almost always wins the football game. 

    This is a x-factor that favors the Longhorns. Texas is No. 13 in the country in turnover margin, gaining 1.4 turnovers per game. The Sooners are ranked No. 89 in the country, giving up .5 turnovers a game more than they haul in. 

    Texas will look to continue to win the turnover battle. Landry Jones has thrown a lot of picks in high-profile games, but he has been much more poised in the pocket this season.

    Whoever wins the turnover battle will win this ballgame.

Oklahoma Secondary

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    The Oklahoma secondary has been one of the most improved position sets on any team in the country this season. 

    The pass defense for Oklahoma finished as the No. 79 unit in the country last season; they are now ranked at No. 9. The Sooners have not been turnover savvy, but they have been very stingy. 

    This will be the first big test for the Sooners with David Ash leading the Longhorns. Ash has been one of the most consistent passers in the country this year, consistently finding his target. 

    For Oklahoma to get a third win in a row over Texas, the secondary has to continue to play as a Top 10 unit.