While some of the luster has come off the game as injuries and losses have piled up, this is still a bloodlust feud that defines this season and future seasons through recruiting and reputation. Texas won 45-35 in a game that was closer than that score. No. 19 Oklahoma needs a win here to stay in the Top 25. No. 3 Texas needs this to keep them in the National Title picture.
As fans, we will be treated to two teams that will field two Heisman worthy quarterbacks, four legitimate NFL first rounders, one "big game" coach, one "Coach February" coach, a neutral site separated by 190 miles from both schools, split down the middle at the stadium and two teams that love to hate each other. Last week, Bradford made it back in time to shine against Baylor, and Texas rolled Colorado. This week, Texas-OU will be the marquee matchup in the heavy weight division.
Scouting the Teams
McCoy and Bradford are outstanding quarterbacks who have played well in the series. Both came into the year as Heisman candidates and seen that light dim a bit. Both are missing their tight ends. Both are highly accurate. McCoy is more mobile. Bradford, normally, has the better arm. is completing 70 percent plus of his passes. Bradford is completing around 60 percent. McCoy has a smoking hot girlfriend; Bradford a sore wing. McCoy Advantage: Texas
DeMarco Murray can be a game changer and Chris Brown is an up and comer. Both should be productive, and will show some different looks with both Murray and Brown in the backfield or splitting Murray out wide. Texas fields three to four guys in the backfield because, as they say with quarterbacks, “they don’t have one.” Injuries have further depleted the Longhorns rushing attack. With some help from Cody Johnson, DJ Monroe, Trey Newton, and whoever else, the real run game for Texas will come from McCoy. Murray will continue to fly like Superman . Advantage: OU.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Injuries to Gresham, Broyles and Irby , as well as every other TE for the Horns, have played heck with this position. Oklahoma has to find some answers and improve on the dropsies they showed against Baylor. Texas has the luxury of having a clutch receiver in Jordan Shipley, but Oklahoma knows that very well and will do their best to take him away. Buckner, Williams, and Kirkendoll will have to make plays for Texas to consistently move the ball. Advantage: Texas
Much was made in the preseason about the Sooners graduating linemen and the need to shape up the young line to protect Bradford. We all know the history there. Now the question is, what will they do to hold up against a solid rush from Texas? Memo to Jarvis Jones: get your feet set quick. Texas meanwhile has the solid offensive line anchored by 6'6”, 310lb Ulatowski. Advantage: Texas.
Gerald McCoy might be able to claim being the “Real McCoy” in this matchup as he will be a majorly disruptive force in the middle and can generate a pass rush from the DT spot. English and Beal will also being coming hard from the edge. Texas has gotten solid play from their line with Houston and Acho, and should have an advantage vs. the porous OU O-line. But the OU defensive line will be nasty. Advantage: OU
Kindle is the standout that OU will be game planing for, but Texas has talent throughout their linebacking corps with Roderick Muckleroy, Keenan Robinson, and Jared Norton. Athletic and anonymous, the Red River Rivalry will make a fine coming out party for the OU LBs, and they will look good vs. the weak Texas rushing attack. Still, the difference maker at the position is Kindle. Kindle will find Bradford dramatically and add to his sack totals. Advantage: Texas.
Last year, Texas came in green, playing true freshman in their defensive backfield. This year, they’re supposedly “seasoned veterans.” Maybe. The OU secondary has a fleet footed group of ballhawks and will often be in zone/zone blitz looks. Shipley will not see many man looks. Advantage: even.
In big games, ST has a way of factoring in huge. Oklahoma will be playing with a lot of emotion, and emotion rules the special teams athletes. But Texas has run back kicks, blocked punts for scores, kicked long field goals and leads the nation in kickoff returns. This does not bode well for Oklahoma who have struggled in kick coverage. While it would be surprising to see Shipley run another one back as he did last year, Texas should have the advantage there. Advantage: Texas
One of the most under reported aspects of “Big Game” Bob’s struggles has been the brain drain at the coaching spots. Oklahoma has lauched: Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Mike Stoops at Arizona, Bo Pelini at Nebraska, Mark Mangini at Kansas and probably someone I'm forgetting, like maybe the DC for LSU. All have been successful programs. Texas meanwhile has had a carousel at the defensive side of the ball giving the world: Dick Tomey at San Jose, Frank Robinson at Syracuse, Gene Chizik at Iowa State/Auburn and Art Briles at Houston/Baylor. This has stopped with coach-in-waiting Muschamp. Stoops might be a better coach than Brown. But there’s more than one coach on those teams, and a stable, veteran staff gives Texas the nod. Advantage: Texas
While the game isn’t “won on emotion,” we all know that it plays a big factor. With two losses, Oklahoma will come into the game needing a win to save their season. Oh, annnd avenge last year’s loss. Texas needs the win to maintain their “rightful” place in the top two, and get a chance to play in the National Title game this year. Will Bradford pull a "Willis Reed" ? Advantage: OU.
The questions going into the year have yet to be answered for either team: can Texas find a running game; can the Sooners protect Bradford? Will OU's receiving corps hang onto the ball? Will Texas get off to a faster start?
The answer to all of these questions will continue to be no. No offensive line or receiving corps is going to get better going against Texas' speed. Colt McCoy and Cody Johnson will be the leading rushers, but won't be any better than advertised going against the strong OU front. the lack of run game will make it difficult to "start fast". For either team to win, they are going to have to overcome those weaknesses with their strengths.
I see Oklahoma coming out very fired up. One game can get their season back on track and it's a game that they have no trouble getting up for anyway. The biggest issue for Texas will be not starting slow, and having Oklahoma smell blood in the water. With veteran leadership in place, Texas should withstand the Sooner early burst.
After that, Texas' advantages in special teams and speed on defense should keep the pressure on Oklahoma. With bad field position and less quick strike ability due to injuries, the battle will come down to the Texas run defense and third down conversion. Texas matches up reasonable well with the linebackers and safeties, which should help get them off the field in those tight spots. This game will have a far more defensive tone compared with last year's game.
Oklahoma will put a blanket on Shipley, and there will have to be plays made by other Longhorns, Buckner, Kirkendoll or Williams. The run game should have enough in the tank to keep the Sooners honest, especially with more emphasis on quarterback keepers, which should neutralize the other McCoy's interior presence some.
McCoy and the defense will make a couple of more plays than their Oklahoma counterparts to edge the Sooners 31-24 in a game that will be close into the fourth quarter.
That's my take: what do you think, either below or click the poll?