The 114th meeting between Texas and Oklahoma won’t take place on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas, but under the glitz and glam of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
For the first time since 1903, Texas and Oklahoma will play twice in the same season.
The first time these two met in October 2018, the stakes were different. The Longhorns were looking to announce themselves as Big 12 contenders by beating the reigning champ, while the Sooners were hoping to continue their dominance in the Red River Showdown.
In that game, Texas took advantage of early Oklahoma turnovers and got out to a 45-24 lead by the fourth quarter. With one of the most explosive offenses in the history of college football, however, the Sooners stormed back and tied it up with just under three minutes left.
Texas would drive down to get a game winning field goal, ending the game 48-45.
That loss ended up being the only one for the Sooners, who went on to go undefeated through the rest of their slate. The Longhorns, meanwhile, ended up needing to rebound from two straight losses in order to end up 7-2 in conference play.
On Saturday, the two teams meet to decide who will be the champion of the Big 12 conference. For Oklahoma, it’s a chance to win their fourth conference title in a row, something that’s never been done in the history of the Big 12. For Texas, this game would represent a chance to get their first conference championship trophy in almost a decade.
NO. 14 TEXAS LONGHORNS (9-3, 7-2)
The Longhorns have been successful this season largely because of the play of sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who’s had the best year for a Texas quarterback since 2009. Ehlinger can throw the ball downfield, but he’s also an effect rushing threat for the Longhorns.
Texas prefers to play a pro style of offense that utlilizes short passing plays and runs in order to set up bigger plays downfield.
Defensively, the Longhorns are one of the better defenses in the Big 12, holding conference opponents to 25.9 points per game.
NO. 5 OKLAHOMA SOONERS (11-1, 8-1)
As is no secret, the Sooners have a high-quality offense. Quarterback Kyler Murray has lethal speed as a runner, but can also throw the ball downfield as well. He’s surrounded by speedy wideout Marquise Brown and is complimented by a running game that has come on as of late, powered by the best offensive line in the Big 12.
Oklahoma is set to break the NCAA record for yards per play, and is averaging over 51 points per game in league play.
The defense for the Sooners is another story, however. On that side of the ball, Oklahoma ranks last in both scoring defense and pass defense in the Big 12.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR TEXAS
Win The Turnover Battle – The Sooners needed two scoop-n-scores last week to get to Arlington, and if the Longhorns can get takeaways without giving the ball up much, they put themselves in position to win here.
Maximize Possessions – Texas needs to keep the ball away from the Sooners while also moving the ball and scoring points. I think if they play a very plodding brand of football and give themselves a lot of short third downs, Texas can slow the pace and also get scores.
Put Pressure On Kyler Murray – Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Longhorns should just all out blitz and leave Murray with a lot of wide open field. Teams that have been successful against him, though, have been able to put pressure on the elite QB. Focus on trying to get him to get the ball out of his hand as quickly as possible.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR OKLAHOMA
Take Deep Shots Off Play Action – Texas will likely be looking to stop the Sooners from running the ball, and Oklahoma could take advantage of that by using a lot of misdirection and then hitting Texas deep. The Longhorns have been susceptible to those kinds of shots before.
Be Aggressive – It would almost benefit the Sooners defensively for them to be overly aggressive against Texas on offense and make a habit out of taking chances. That might force the offense into making undo mistakes, and create a turnover or other big play for the Oklahoma defense.
Try An Onside Kick Early – Texas has failed to field two onside kicks this season, and the likelihood of Oklahoma recovering one here would give the Sooners an extra possession and potentially another score.
Texas wants to win this game by controlling the ball and giving the Sooners as few possessions as possible. That not only keeps the Sooners on the sidelines, but it would mean that the Longhorns don’t necessarily need to make a ton of big plays.
If Texas can keep the ball moving on offense and keep picking up first downs, they can slow this game down and give themselves a good chance.
Oklahoma wants to win this game by getting out to a big lead on Texas from the gun. The Longhorns got down early to Maryland and Oklahoma State, and that prevented them from playing at the kind of pace they like to play with.
If Oklahoma can come out making big plays – especially through the air – that probably opens up a few things for them offensively in this game.
At the beginning of the season, I made the bold prediction that Oklahoma would not win their fourth Big 12 championship in a row. That was before Kyler Murray started playing football in an Oklahoma uniform, and if I had known at the time how unbelievably good the Sooners would be on offense, I probably would have thought twice about that prediction.
In the name of integrity, I am going to stick to what I said at the beginning of the season and go with Texas in this one. I am not extremely confident in that pick, mostly because of the fact Oklahoma has a lot to play for in this game.
I think that might make the Sooners try to do a little too much and not play within themselves in this one, leading to possibly some big turnovers or penalties. That should give Texas the edge that they need in this one. Longhorns by a field goal in Jerry World.