The Texas Longhorns head north in Week 6 to face longtime rival Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Saturday’s Red River Showdown pits two capable, young coaches of high profile programs against one another, with the winner claiming the edge on a potential Big 12 title run. Sooner Coach Lincoln Riley got the best of Tom Herman last year 29-25, behind the play of his quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. In the last 10 contests between the two schools, Oklahoma holds a 6-4 advantage, including the last two games. This year marks the first time both teams have held national rankings since the 2012 season, in which Oklahoma drummed the Longhorns 63-21.
This season is different than the last several, especially for Texas. Tom Herman’s team has won four straight, and the Longhorns won’t be starting a true freshman quarterback in this year’s game – something they did in the last two meetings with Oklahoma.
The stakes are high for both programs.
Texas looks to win five straight for the first time since 2009 and Oklahoma hopes to continue its recent success against the Longhorns, maintaining an undefeated season. Halfway through the regular season, the winner of this game will be in position to make a charge at a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
When: Saturday, October 5, 2018
Time: 11:00 AM CST
Venue: Cotton Bowl
Location: Dallas, Texas
Head Coach: Lincoln Riley
Head Coaching Experience: 2nd year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Oklahoma: 2
Career Record: 17-2
Career Record at Oklahoma: 17-2
Head Coach: Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 4th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas: 2
Career Record: 33-11
Career Record at Texas: 11-7
Can the Texas Stop Kyler Murray?
The Sooners rack up an impressive 523 yards of offense per game, largely thanks to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray has thrown for 1460 yards and 17 touchdowns through five games and has also added 4 rushing touchdowns. He has a long arm and has only thrown two interceptions on the season, but the Texas defense has come on strong as of late. Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has groomed an impressive unit that ranks 30th in total defense and is stingy against the run. A hungry Texas secondary highlighted by Kris Boyd, Caden Sterns and Brandon Jones, will have their hands full against Oklahoma wideouts CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown. While Murray can’t be shut down completely, Texas can limit his success by putting pressure on him and forcing him to make mistakes. Texas head coach Tom Herman is confident his defensive line can get the job done on Saturday.
“And so Breckyn and Charles and Ta’Quon and Nelly (Chris Nelson) and Gerald, those are all guys that are up for the challenge and they’ve gotten and Marqez, I can’t forget Marqez is playing about 30 snaps a game, too. So those are all guys that we believe can run the passer and can hopefully do a good job against their quarterback.”
The Longhorns’ run defense is stingy, allowing only 115 yards on the ground per game. If Texas can generate the pass rush, expect Texas to hold Oklahoma’s offense somewhat in-check.
Will Texas move the ball on Oklahoma’s suspect defense?
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger will make his second start against the Sooners on Saturday. Ehlinger threw for 278 yards and a touchdown in the loss last season, but the sophomore has made significant progress this season. He has thrown for 9 touchdowns and rushed for three, amassing 1185 passing yards. Ehlinger’s top receiving targets, LJ Humphrey, Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay have the potential for big plays against a Sooner secondary that gives up 252 yards in the air. The Texas running back corps has yet to have an individual rusher break the 100-yard mark, and don’t expect that to change on Saturday. Oklahoma gives up an average of 153 rushing yards per game, and expect true freshman Keaontay Ingram to push the fold and lead Texas in rushing. The Longhorns need a big game from Ehlinger and company to neutralize the Kyler Murray factor.
Special Teams needs to be Special
The last two games have been decided by 5 points each, and the last four games have been decided by 7 points or less. Saturday will likely be more of the same, and a punt return or a field goal could easily be the difference in the game. Texas kicker Cameron Dicker is 5-8 in field goal attempts, while Oklahoma’s Austin Siebert is 4-6 with a long of 42 yards. Freshman punter Ryan Bujcevski has had his share of growing pains this season with tipped and muffed punts, and the Longhorns will need solid play from the true freshman to win the field position battle.
Hager to Wear #60
Senior defensive lineman Breckyn Hager will wear No. 60 in honor of legendary Longhorn Tommy Nobis. Following Nobis’ passing last December, the entire program wore ‘60’ decals on the back of their helmets for the Texas Bowl, while Hager also wore Nobis’ retired No. 60 with the permission of his widow, Lynn Nobis.
Hager, whose father Britt donned the No. 60 jersey in honor of Nobis from 1984-88 during his All-American career, will once again wear the jersey on Saturday.
- Texas and Oklahoma will meet for the 113th time on Saturday in the AT&T Red River Showdown.
- The Longhorns enter the matchup winners of four straight, with an overall record of 4-1 and a 2-0 mark in the Big 12 Conference. UT defeated Kansas State on the road, 19-14, on Saturday for their first win in Manhattan since 2002.
- Oklahoma is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12. They defeated Baylor 66-33 last Saturday.
- For the first time since 2011, College GameDay will be live from a Texas Football game as they broadcast from the State Fair.
- The series, which began in 1900, has been played in Dallas since 1912 and at the State Fair since 1929.
- Only Texas A&M (118 times) has played the Longhorns on more occasions. Since 1900, the only years Texas and Oklahoma have not played were 1918, ’20, ’21 and 1924-28.
- The first matchup between the Texas and Oklahoma in 1900 ended with a 28-2 Longhorns’ victory. Texas is the only Big 12 Conference team that holds an all-time series lead against the Sooners.
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