It’s the most wonderful time of the year. College football is in full bloom, and that means that it’s officially rivalry season. Teams will meet on the field and lay it all out just for bragging rights, or in many cases, to eliminate their rival from preseason hopes. The Red River Showdown will have all of the aforementioned and more, but this match-up proves to be far different than what most people expected.
Many analysts had the Sooners, led by Baker Mayfield, arguably the best quarterback in the nation, to win the Big 12 and compete in the College Football Playoff in January. But those dreams took a dark turn last week when the Sooners were upset last week in Norman by Iowa State. If Oklahoma has any hopes of reaching the CFP and subsequently winning a national championship, then they must win out, and win convincingly.
Then there’s Texas. Many had the Longhorns making solid strides toward the program being back, but the honeymoon phase with Coach Herman ended abruptly when the Longhorns lost at home in the season-opener to a Maryland team they were heavily favored to beat. They lost again 2 weeks later to the Trojans in Los Angeles in double-overtime. But Texas hasn’t given up yet, beating Iowa State in Ames and Kansas State last week in Austin in double-overtime.
Headed into the Red River Shootout, Oklahoma is 4-1, #12 in the nation and now on the outside of the CFP hoping that a number of miracles can go their way. Texas on the other hand is 2-2, but still undefeated (along with TCU) in Big 12 play, and looking to keep that momentum going. Both teams have post-season aspirations, so this game has more at stake than previous iterations of this historic match-up.
Let’s take a look at the actual match-up.
The Sooners are anchored by quarterback Baker Mayfield, arguably the most electric player in college football outside of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, and he is not alone on this varsity squad. The Oklahoma receiving corps has given Mayfield a lot of help throughout the years, and they will have to step-up if they want to avoid losing 2 games straight. Oklahoma’s rushing attack will challenge the Longhorns’ front 7, which lacks in depth, but the Texas defense has risen to the occasion in multiple games this season. Look for a top-notch Mayfield offense to face a defense with a chip in their shoulder.
The Texas defense played stellar as of late, especially the secondary. And the Longhorns will have to keep this up if they wish to beat the Sooners. Texas played miserably in the season-opener against Maryland, giving up 263 yards on the ground. Since then, Texas has played much better, almost completely shutting down the run on opponents. And they will need to, if they want to force Baker Mayfield to beat them through the air. The Longhorns are most depleted on the defensive line, which has the potential for doom. It all depends on how much pressure Orlando and Herman decide to bring. If they bring it like they did against USC, then they will force Mayfield to make bad throws.
The Sooners have been great against the run, giving up just 618 yards so far through 5 games. Opponents are averaging 3.36 yards per rush, which is good enough for #33 in the nation. And they may have a field day against a Texas rushing attack that has been mediocre at best. With the Texas offensive line banged up with injuries and in a mode of constant retooling, it has proven difficult for Tim Beck to get the run game going.[googlad]
Another week, another game pondering who will start at quarterback. The smart bet would be on Sam Ehlinger, who led Texas to a double overtime win against Kansas State last weekend, especially while Buechele continues to heal. With that being said, whoever is under center must challenge the Sooners secondary, which does not fare well against one-on-one coverage. Fortunately for Texas, the Longhorns receiving corps has the most depth of any position, and they will have to use their physicality in hopes of getting the better of Sooner defenders.
The Longhorns have not been spectacular on special teams for several years now. They’ve improved, but there are still concerns. In previous years, multiple games were lost each year due to special teams-mishaps, but the Longhorns have fared well this season, considering…. The Sooners are one of the best return teams in the nation and Texas will need to defend well. If the game comes down to a field goal or extra point, former JUCO kicker Josh Rowland, who has not had a great season for Texas, will get the nod. Luckily for the Longhorns, the Oklahoma has struggled in the punt game, with the unit being ranked #122 of 128 NCAA teams. Their 422 net yards punting is abysmal and not a stat Lincoln Riley wants to see. The Texas punting game is led by Michael Dickson, who won Big 12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Year last year, and shows no sign of slowing down.
All in all, this is a game of match-ups. Both teams have advantages in a number of key positions, and luckily for both teams they excel at the opposing positions. This should prove to make an exciting game at the Cotton Bowl. Texas has won 6 of the last 9 match-ups that the Sooners have come into the game ranked while the Longhorns have been unranked. Baker Mayfield and the Sooners will be playing with a sense of urgency, but if the Longhorns can take advantage of Oklahoma’s mistakes, then Texas just might get it’s 3rd win in 5 years. The margin for error for the Longhorns is even smaller than that of the Sooners, for if they have any hopes of competing for a Big 12 title they must come out of Dallas victorious.
Top Plays: Texas vs. Baylor
The Texas Longhorns held on to beat the Baylor Bears 23-17 last Saturday in Austin to win their sixth straight game, improving to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in Big 12 play. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger left the game with a shoulder injury on the opening drive and was replaced by junior Shane Buechele. Buechele, who saw his first action on the field since the Longhorns’ bowl game against Missouri last December, finished 20-34 with 184 yards and one touchdown. True freshman running back Keaontay Ingram surpassed the century mark on the ground, the first in his career, amassing 110 yards on 19 carries.
Texas scored all of its points in the first half and held a 23-10 lead over Baylor at the half. The Bears scored a touchdown in the third quarter to cut the lead to 23-17 and held possession of the ball on the final drive of the game. Todd Orlando’s defense held steady as Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer was pressured and threw a last-effort pass out of the Texas end zone as the game clock expired.
Place your vote for Texas’ top play in the win over Baylor.
Shane Buechele’s 44-yard TD pass to Collin Johnson (4:21 – 2nd quarter)
LJ Humphrey’s quarterback keeper for a TD (1:12 – 2nd quarter)
Caden Sterns intercepts Charlie Brewer (:44 – 2nd Quarter)
Texas defense pressures Brewer on final play of the game (:01 – 4th quarter)
Vote for your Top Play below.
Texas Football 2019 full schedule released
The Longhorns host LSU at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 7
The Big 12 Conference released the 2019 football schedules for all ten conference schools on Thursday. The Longhorns’ schedule includes three non-conference games, two of which are against teams from Louisiana. Notably, Texas will host the LSU Tigers on September 7th after a home season-opener against Louisiana Tech, and will complete non-conference play against former Southwest Conference opponent Rice at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Texas will host Texas Tech on Friday, November 29th, the day after Thanksgiving, to wrap up the season.
Full schedule can be found below.
2019 Texas Football Schedule
Aug. 31—Louisiana Tech
Sept. 14—at Rice (NRG Stadium)
Sept. 21—Oklahoma State
Oct. 5—at West Virginia
Oct. 12—vs Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl)
Oct. 26—at TCU
Nov. 9—Kansas State
Nov. 16—at Iowa State
Nov. 23—at Baylor
Nov. 29—Texas Tech
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Baylor
Texas narrowly escaped with a victory against Baylor on Saturday, and there are several areas that the Longhorns must clean up to stay atop the Big 12
Another week, another close ballgame that came down to the final drive for Texas. The Longhorns found themselves behind the eight ball when Sam Ehlinger exited the game with an injury in the 1st quarter, and Baylor ended up giving Texas all they could handle. Regardless, Texas is now 6-1 and sits alone atop of the Big 12 conference standings. The Longhorns will gladly welcome the bye week as they prepare for the final stretch of the season. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from a 23-17 win over the Bears:
Texas finally has a 100-yard rusher
For the first time in the Tom Herman era, Texas had a 100-yard rusher. Freshman Keaontay Ingram finished the afternoon with 110 yards on 19 carries. It’s hard to believe it had been 20 games since the Longhorns had someone surpass the 100-yard rushing mark, but it is only appropriate Ingram was the one to break the streak. Ingram continues to see an uptick in touches and has proven to be the best running back on the roster.
Collin Johnson continues to dominate
Texas now has a good problem on their hands. Collin Johnson is playing himself into position to be a potential high NFL draft pick, and I don’t think you will find many people who are upset about it. Johnson has cemented himself as a number 1 receiver after turning in another great performance on Saturday, hauling in 11 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. The biggest improvement he has made from his first two seasons is his physicality. Johnson has proven to be reliable going over the middle of the field while also also improving his ability beat corners off the line of scrimmage.
It’s hard to find a lot of negative when you look at Ryan Bujcevski’s stat line: 47.8 yards per punt and 3 punts inside the 20. Unfortunately, the stats do not tell the full story. Texas continues to have major issues getting punts off in a timely manner, and I am beginning to think it is more on Bujcevski than the protection unit. The Aussie takes far too long to get the ball off his foot once he receives the snap. Baylor nearly had a block yesterday, and it is a minor miracle the Longhorns have not had a punt blocked this year.
Opening drive scores
The Texas defense has had a tough time stopping opponents on their opening drives this season. In the 7 opening drives opponents have had against the Longhorns this year, 5 have ended in either a touchdown or field goal. Todd Orlando has stressed the importance of starting fast on defense, but a trend has emerged.
Cameron Dicker comes back to earth
Cameron Dicker carried over his momentum from his game winner against Oklahoma, going 3 for 3 on field goals in the first half, including a 47-yarder to end the half. The second half was a different story. Dicker missed a 34-yard attempt late in the 4th quarter that would have given Texas a 9-point lead. He followed it up with a miss from 51 yards. It has been a roller coaster ride for Tom Herman as he tries to manage the punting and kicking unit, but it’s hard to expect anything less since he is having to trot out a true freshman punter and kicker.
Zero second half points
The Longhorns had 5 drives in the second half — 2 ending in punts, 2 in missed field goals and one with an interception. Similar to the Kansas State game, the Texas offense moved the ball at times in the second half but were hurt by the inability to finish drives. Tom Herman and the offensive staff have shown improvements in making halftime adjustments, but the staff failed to put Shane Buechele and the offense in a position to finish off drives against a Baylor defense that ranked at or near the bottom of the Big 12 in nearly every major statistical category.
Sam Ehlinger’s injury
Texas fans now have a greater appreciation for Sam Ehlinger after watching the offense try to operate for almost 4 full quarters without him. Shane Buechele is considered a quality passer, but he fails to bring the running dimension to the offense that Ehlinger brings. The Longhorn offense is built around Ehlinger, and if he were to miss any extended period of time, it would not be good. If he is healthy enough for Oklahoma State, he needs to play. The Texas offense is not good enough to plug in the backup and rest the starter, even against a team like Oklahoma State.
Ehlinger’s MRI results show shoulder sprain
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger left the Baylor game in the opening series after suffering a shoulder injury. Ehlinger left for the locker room to be evaluated and was replaced by backup Shane Buechele. He returned to the field but remained on the sideline with a headset on for the duration of the game. The Longhorns, behind Buechele, held on to defeat the Bears 23-17 and improved to 6-1 overall on the season.
In his postgame media availability, head coach Tom Herman expressed uncertainty about the injury to his sophomore quarterback, who led the Longhorns to five straight wins before the injury.
“I think any time you hurt a throwing shoulder, my level of concern is greater than zero, but I don’t know enough. I’ve got to be educated more on it.”
Ehlinger’s MRI results revealed a first degree sprained shoulder, which is good news for the Longhorns, who travel to Stillwater in two weeks to face Oklahoma State.
— Aaron Carrara (@AC_HornSports) October 14, 2018
Ehlinger has thrown for 1,534 yards and 11 touchdowns this season with just two interceptions. He has also rushed for 230 yards and 6 touchdowns.
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