Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) – The latest installment of the Red River
Showdown takes place this Saturday, as Big 12 Conference rivals Texas and
Oklahoma square off at the Cotton Bowl.
Texas comes in on the heels of a 28-7 home loss to No. 7 Baylor, and this bout
marks the team’s third against a ranked opponent already this season — a
20-17 loss to No. 12 UCLA on Sept. 13 being the other. The Longhorns also
suffered a 41-7 setback to BYU, which has spent time in the Top-25 this
season, on their ledger. The team does have a conference win under its belt,
having blanked Kansas on the road, 23-0, on Sept. 27. Texas has lost five
straight to ranked foes, and is just 4-17 against the AP Top-25 dating back to
Oklahoma had high hopes of not only challenging for the Big 12 title this
season, but to also reach the inaugural College Football Playoff, but the
11th-ranked Sooners suffered their first loss last weekend in a 37-33 final at
No. 25 TCU. The setback snapped an eight-game win streak for the Sooners, and
they will be trying to continue their recent dominance of unranked foes which
they’ve beaten seven straight times and in 22 of the last 23 meetings overall.
Besides bragging rights, up for grabs in this game are both the Golden Hat and
Texas leads the all-time series with Oklahoma, 60-43-5, and the ‘Horns shocked
the Sooners in last year’s tussle, 36-20.
With a record below .500, it’s not surprising that Texas ranks among the worst
offensive teams in the Big 12. Currently, the team ranks eighth in rushing
(134.4 ypg), and ninth in scoring (18.4 ppg), passing (184.8 ypg) and total
offense (319.2 ypg).
The team’s offensive standouts, while certainly not plentiful, include running
backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, who have combined for 547 yards and
three TDs, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (79-of-133, 734 yards, five TDs, three
INTs) and receivers Jaxon Shipley (29 receptions, 245 yards) and John Harris
(26 receptions, 370 yards, four TDs).
Defensively, the Longhorns have performed much better in yielding only 19.2
points and 333.6 yards per contest — both of which rank them in the top-four.
Their strength has been in defending the pass, as foes are generating just
134.6 ypg (No. 1 in the conference) and have scored only four touchdowns via
that mode of attack.
Jordan Hicks paces the UT defense with 69 tackles, and he is followed closely
by Steve Edmond with 65. No other player has more than 33 stops. Collectively,
the unit has amassed a league-leading 20 sacks, with Edmond and Malcom Brown
recording 3.5 apiece. Hicks has two picks, the team logging nine INTs but only
two fumble recoveries to this point.
Texas was held in check by a dominant Baylor defense last week, tallying only
334 yards of total offense and failing to score a single point until Gray ran
one in from two yards out with only 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. Gray
finished with 79 yards on 12 carries, while Brown added 55 yards and Swoopes
40 more. In terms of the passing game, Swoopes hit fewer than half of his 34
attempts for only 144 yards with no TDs and a pair of INTs. No player caught
more than three balls, and none had more than 34 receiving yards.
Once again, the Longhorns stood tall in the face of a pretty daunting passing
attack, as they held Bryce Petty and the Baylor offense to only 111 yards.
They did allow a pair of aerial scores, and where they really struggled was in
stopping the Bears’ punishing rushing attack, which accounted for 278 yards on
a whopping 60 carries. Edmond was a man possessed as he posted a staggering 19
tackles, 14 of which were solo efforts, and included in his total were a pair
Texas head coach Charlie Strong spoke after the loss about his team’s
inability to put forth a complete effort for all four quarters.
“What’s key for us, we just have to learn how to win. We don’t know how to win
yet. We don’t know how to finish.”
The Big 12’s leading rusher wears an Oklahoma uniform, as Samaje Perine has
rumbled his way to 506 yards and eight TDs. Keith Ford (foot injury) has only
played in three games, but his 64.7 ypg ranks him in the top-eight in the
league. He has found the end zone five times. As for the Sooners’ aerial
pursuits, Trevor Knight has found success on only 54.5 percent of his passes,
but for 1,374 yards. His TD-to-INT ratio needs vast improvement however, as he
has tossed as many scoring strikes as picks (five). Sterling Shepard has 30
catches for 651 yards and three TDs, while Neal Durron has turned his 21 grabs
into 282 yards.
Oklahoma is scoring 42.4 ppg while permitting 20.6 ppg, thus affording coach
Bob Stoops’ club the luxury of being aggressive when the opposition has the
ball. As it is, the Sooners give up just 109.6 ypg on the ground, but they
have been victimized for a league-worst 264 ypg passing. They do a nice job
protecting the football while at the same time taking it away from the
opposition (Big 12-best +7 turnover margin). OU also performs well with its
back to the goal line, ranking second in the conference in red zone defense
(.714). Dominique Alexander paces the unit with 38 tackles, while Eric Striker
and Quentin Hayes have combined for 6.5 sacks.
In what was a close game, Oklahoma churned out 461 yards of total offense
compared to 469 for TCU. Knight threw for 309 yards and TD, but completed
fewer than half of his passes and was picked off twice, one of which was
returned for a TD early in the fourth quarter — which turned out to be the
game-winning score for the Horned Frogs. Shepard had a monster game in turning
seven catches into 215 yards and a TD, while Perine picked up 87 yards and
crossed the goal line three times. Knight also got in on the act with his
legs, accounting for 61 yards on 13 carries.
Once again, the Sooners played well against the run last week, yielding fewer
than four yards per carry, although the Frogs did score a pair of TDs on the
ground. As for TCU QB Trevone Boykin, he threw for 318 yards and two scores,
but was picked off once and sacked twice, both times by Striker. Jordan Evans
led the OU stand with 10 tackles, eight of which were unassisted.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Stoops gave credit to both teams for
fighting to the very end.
“I have no qualms about how our team played, we came in here ready to play.
The bottom line is they made plays and we didn’t. They outperformed us in
different areas. We had our opportunities and chances late in the second half
and we couldn’t take advantage of it. I give TCU credit. We made too many
mistakes.They just beat us.”