The #19 Longhorns and #7 Sooners will meet at the Cotton Bowl at 11:00 AM on Saturday for the 113th time, with the winner positioning themselves to make a legitimate run at a Big 12 title. The Sooners defeated Tom Herman and Texas last year 29-24, extending the current Oklahoma win-streak to two games over the Longhorns. Several Texas players met with the media on Tuesday to provide their perspectives on the upcoming game in Dallas.
The Longhorns came back from 20 points down to take a 4th-quarter lead against Oklahoma last season but failed to close when it mattered. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger knows his team has to do a better job of finishing games.
“It was a constant trend last year that we couldn’t finish in the fourth quarter. We had an opportunity, we were winning in the fourth quarter and we didn’t end up winning in the end.”
Ehlinger threw for 278 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another in last year’s contest. Ehlinger, a sophmore, will make his second start in the Red River Showdown on Saturday.
With both teams ranked in the Top 25 it adds another element to an already heated rivalry game. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has thrown for 1460 yards and accounted for 21 touchdowns through just five games, and Texas knows they will have to contain him to be successful. Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu, who had 5 solo tackles and two sacks (one for a safety) against Kansas State last week, respects what Murray brings to the game.
“He can put the ball almost anywhere. He’s a lot better than what he was in high school and A&M that’s for sure. He’s a boss but you have to step up for those kind of games. You have to put your best foot forward because he’s going to do it, they’re going to do it, it is what it is. Can’t come in there timid, can’t come in there looking at the stands seeing all the people, there’s none of that for us.”
Safety Brandon Jones, who played high school football in Nacgodoches, Texas, is playing in his third Texas-Oklahoma game. Perspectives differ, says Jones, who has a deeper appreciation for the rivalry as a collegiate athlete.
“In high school, you hear about it and you know how important the game is but it’s a totally different feeling when you run out of that tunnel. I get excited, I was excited Sunday after that Kansas State game, it’s just one of those games that you know you gave it all the previous games of the season but it’s just something you really look forward to.
Wide Receiver Collin Johnson echoed head coach Tom Herman’s statement about the team’s preparation for Oklahoma being traditional, but says the game certainly has a different feel to it.
“It’s hard to explain but the approach to the game is the same, the routine we don’t change, things like that in our preparation but when we’re on the field it’s just a little different, it’s hard to explain, just passion. The game speaks for itself; so much passion goes into the game. OU is a great program, it has a lot of history to it as well just like Texas and it’s just two great programs going at it and it doesn’t get better than that. I’m excited man.”
Senior Tight End Andrew Beck has 10 catches for 92 yards and continues to play a larger role in the offense each week. Beck says it’s exciting to run past the hostile Oklahoma fans and into the sea of Texas fans, but says it can get a little heated in between.
“But they don’t always have nice things to say coming out of the tunnel, as shocking as that sounds. And even between teams not ever planned on but always happens because we come out of the same tunnel so we start jawing at each other. It’s what makes that game a lot of fun to watch and a ton of fun to play in.”
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