College Football Edge: Texas and Oklahoma Bring Questions into Red River Game

Gary BrownCorrespondent IISeptember 30, 2010

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  A Texas Longhorns cheerleader at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Texas football is reeling after the UCLA loss, while Bob Stoops' Oklahoma football team seeks consistency

View complete "Matchup Stats" for Texas and Oklahoma at

The aroma of fried food is wafting through the air at the State Fairgrounds in Dallas and people are lined up to ride the Texas Star. This means it is time for the Red River game Saturday with Texas and Oklahoma both looking to take a step forward in the Big 12 South.

Oklahoma is coming off of another inconsistent performance against Big East member Cincinnati. The good news for Sooner fans is their team squeaked out a 31-29 win to remain undefeated on the season.

Texas, meanwhile, did not fare as well in their match with UCLA. It was a dismal day for the Longhorns as the Bruins dominated the game from start to finish and left bruised feelings behind as they took Texas down, 34-12.

So, how do Texas and Oklahoma look on paper? Consider first the Sooner offense against the Longhorn defense.

Oklahoma moves the ball well and puts points on the scoreboard, but 71 percent of their offense comes through the air. While Texas may have looked lousy last weekend, it was not their pass-defense that was shredded. Nationally, against the pass, the Longhorns rank sixth. Against UCLA, they only gave up 27 yards passing, but in fairness, the Bruins tried less than two handfuls of passes. 

So who has the edge when Texas is on defense against the Sooners? Looking at the numbers, Texas gets the nod just because Oklahoma is not trying to do enough on the run.

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Running back DeMarco Murray is the key to flipping the advantage back to the Sooners. He is averaging 4.15 yards per carry this season and has totaled 436 yards through Oklahoma’s first four games. If the Oklahoma offense can score points while moving the balance of running and passing yards closer to 40/60, it will give them a huge boost in this game.

Now, what does it look like when Texas has the football and Oklahoma is playing "D"?

This season, Oklahoma has managed to give back all but eight yards of what their offense gains on average each game. So, while the Sooners are good at moving the ball, they are not doing very well when it comes to stopping the other guys.

Oklahoma has not done too badly against the rush except when they faced Air Force and their option attack. In the other three games, they have only given up an average of 119 yards per game.

Texas provided UCLA the shovel so they could bury them last Saturday. When you give up four fumbles and one interception during a game you are just gift-wrapping a win for the other team.

So far, Texas has given the ball back to the other team 10 times this season. Think how much better the yards per game and scoring would look if they cut that number in half. Think about how much better the defense could look if they were not being called on to bail out the mistakes of the offense.

Comparing the Oklahoma defense to the Texas offense is tricky, but by just the slightest of margins the edge goes to the Longhorns.

There are two ways Oklahoma can regain the advantage over Texas when these units are on the field. First, they need to win on third down.  Oklahoma currently allows other teams to convert at a rate of 40 percent on third down.

To state the obvious, if your defense is off the field, then the offense has more opportunities to rack up points.

Second, the Sooner defenders must swarm to the ball. If Texas drops the football, it increases the odds of making the recovery if your side has lots of bodies there.

The call for the game? Texas should win the game. Should.

On paper they are also a better team than UCLA. Count on Bob Stoops to have his Sooners ready for this game and the energy to be more consistent with what was shown in their meeting with Florida State. Given the unanswered questions both team have, this game is a genuine toss-up.