The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns will resume the Red River Rivalry this Saturday in a clash between two of the best teams in the Big 12. It is the first time since 2008 that both teams are ranked in the Top 10 at the time of the matchup.
The Sooners entered the season with championship aspirations, and given the way they have played, that goal is certainly attainable. They have fallen to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 through no fault of their own, but remain on top of the Coaches' Poll.
The Longhorns have had a nice bounce-back season, and have a chance to prove that they are worthy of their No. 10 ranking in the Coaches' Poll with a win in this game. Installing Case McCoy as the primary quarterback has helped the offense find a rhythm the last two weeks.
Where: Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Watch: ABC, Nationally Televised
Listen: 107.7 KRXO FM, 1520 KOKC AM (Oklahoma); KVET 98.1 FM, Sports Radio 1300 AM The Zone (Texas)
Betting Line: Oklahoma (-10.5)
What's At Stake?
Both teams have gotten off to hot starts this season and are dreaming of not only a spot in the BCS, but in the BCS National Championship Game.
The loser of this game will be eliminated from the national title picture, but they will still have an outside shot at a BCS berth. The winner is in the driver's seat for the Big 12 conference title.
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has Heisman Trophy dreams, and a big game against a Top 10 team on a neutral field will certainly help his case.
Sooners Injury Report
Jamell Fleming, DB: Probable with a head injury
Tyler Evans, OL: Probable with a shoulder injury
Brennan Clay, RB: Probable with a shoulder injury
Jimmy Stevens, K: Probable with a quadriceps injury
Aaron Colvin, DB: Probable with a concussion
Ben Habern, OL: Out with a broken arm until mid-November
Longhorns Injury Report
Christian Scott, S: Questionable with a wrist injury
Chet Moss, LB: Questionable with a back injury
Nolan Brewster, S: Out for season with a concussion
Demarco Cobbs, LB: Out indefinitely with a broken arm
Key Storyline: Is Texas' Offensive Resurgence for Real or a Product of Bad Competition?
If Texas wants to win this game, it will have to score points. We know the Sooners can put up points against any team, so the onus falls on the Longhorns offense to put up enough points to hang with them.
The Longhorns have scored 86 points in their last two games after scoring just 51 in the first two games.
Quarterback Case McCoy has played well in limited action the previous two weeks, but that was against Iowa State and UCLA. Those two teams rank 85th and 105th in national scoring defense, respectively.
This is Texas' first game against a ranked team this season, and McCoy has only thrown 38 passes in two seasons.
What They Are Saying?
Jake Trotter of Sooner Nation wrote about Landry Jones' experience and how it gives Oklahoma the edge in this game:
Jones has a come a long way since that first OU-Texas game. On Saturday, he'll be making his 28th career start, and that career includes last season's 28-20 victory over the Longhorns. In that game, Jones was far more composed, despite a bizarre fumble in the fourth quarter that rolled out of bounds. He completed 24 of 39 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns (and no interceptions).
Trey Scott of the Daily Texan says that this Texas team is benefiting from a change in philosophy by head coach Mack Brown:
There was once a time when Brown preferred not to play freshmen.
Let me rephrase that. There was once a time when Brown absolutely, resolutely did not play freshmen. It cost him, too...
Texas opened up this season against Rice and played 18 true freshmen, tops in the country and the most in Brown’s career. Two more have played since then, which gives Texas 20 true freshmen in action. The most before that was 12 in 2010, and the number has grown almost each season.
Longhorns Player(s) To Watch: Case McCoy and David Ash, QBs
The Longhorns have been using McCoy and Ash at quarterback the last two weeks. They both threw 12 passes against Iowa State last week, each completing seven.
McCoy is likely to get the bulk of the snaps for the team in this game, but Ash is quickly becoming a favorite among players and coaches.
Whichever quarterback is on the field, it will be important for them not to get overwhelmed by the stage and opponent in order to keep the team in the game.
Sooners Player To Watch: Jaz Reynolds, WR
Opposing defenses know all about Ryan Broyles on the outside, but Jaz Reynolds is emerging as the home run hitter for this team.
He has just 10 catches on the season, but is averaging 23.4 yards per catch. By comparison, Broyles is averaging just 12.5.
Broyles is still the go-to receiver in the red zone for Landry Jones. Reynolds makes the big plays to set up the touchdown catch, though.
Texas' defense can't get burned by either receiver, but the focus will be on Broyles. That will allow Reynolds to break free for some big plays in this game.
Key Matchup: Texas Quarterbacks vs. Oklahoma Secondary
Bob Stoops has made a lot of money in his career by confusing opposing quarterbacks and forcing them into making mistakes they would not normally make.
Case McCoy has to establish a rhythm very early in the game in order to build his confidence and get the Sooners defense back on its heels.
When you play quarterback at Texas, you are judged based on how you perform against Oklahoma. This is McCoy's first chance against them. How he handles the moment will determine how close this game is.
Both teams play well on defense.
The difference in this game will be the talent and experience Oklahoma has on offense.
Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, Dominique Whaley, Jaz Reynolds, et al. are too strong for Texas to keep up with over the course of a 60-minute game.
Oklahoma 38, Texas 24