When the #11 Texas Longhorns (4-1, 2-0) line up against the #12 Oklahoma Sooners (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday it will be the 115th time these two rivals have met on the gridiron. And it will be the 92nd straight game played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Both teams are ranked in the Top 25 for the second consecutive season, and both have Heisman candidate hopeful quarterbacks that can dazzle on a dime. The scene doesn’t need to be set, and there need be no pomp and circumstance about what’s about to take place at the State Fairgrounds. These two teams hate one another, and that’s all that needs to be said.
A win goes a long way for the winner, and a loss is not fathomable by either team. In the greater scheme of college football, the winner is in the pole position for a conference championship and possibly more. Oklahoma has won nine consecutive games against Big 12 opponents, but Texas is the only Big 12 program to boast a winning record against the Sooners.
What: Texas Longhorns (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big-12)
When: Saturday, October 12, 2019
Time: 11:00 AM CST
Venue: Cotton Bowl
Location: Dallas, Texas
The Line: Oklahoma -10.5
Last Meeting Between the Two Teams: Oklahoma defeated Texas 39-27 (December 1, 2018 – AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas – Big 12 Championship Game)
All-Time Series Record: Texas leads Oklahoma 62-47-5
Head Coach: Lincoln Riley
Head Coaching Experience: 3rd year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Oklahoma: 3
Career Record: 29-4
Career Record at Oklahoma: 29-4
Head Coach: Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas: 3
Career Record: 43-15
Career Record at Texas: 21-11
Stopping Jalen Hurts
Oklahoma is averaging 53 points per game and a large part of that has to do with the ability of transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts has played in 3 national championship games at Alabama, and is an experienced dual-threat weapon for the Sooners. He is at the top of the charts nationally in passing efficiency rating (231.3) and leads the nation in yards per pass attempt (14.0) and yards per completion (18.6). He also ranks second in total offense (404.4 ypg) and yards per rush (8.8). The Longhorns’ pass defense has struggled all season, and ranks among the bottom of all FBS programs (126th out of 130 teams). Oklahoma’s offense ends and begins with Hurts, and Texas must curb his big-play ability if they intend on leaving Fair Park with a win.
Ehlinger’s Offensive Production
Sam Ehlinger has produced big game after big game, and he’s done his share of damage against the Oklahoma Sooners. In three games against Oklahoma Ehlinger has amassed 1,161 total yards (391, 386, 384). His 384 yards in last year’s Big 12 Championship were the most ever against the Sooners by a Texas quarterback. The Longhorns get senior wide receiver Collin Johnson back in the lineup on Saturday, and Ehlinger will have the trio of Johnson, Brennan Eagles and Devin Duvernay as starters at wideout. While Oklahoma ranks first nationally in total offense, Texas isn’t far behind at #19. Sooner defensive coordinator Alex Grinch talked about the challenges Sam Ehlinger presents to his defensive unit. “The one you circle obviously is the quarterback spot. He has the ability to just make so much happen, but in specifically the pass game but also in the run game. The ability to extend plays and hurt you with his feet…”
Texas is confident they can move the ball against a Sooner defense that allows 346 yard per game.
Texas Corners vs. Oklahoma Wide Receivers
The Longhorns will be without defensive backs Caden Sterns, Jalen Green and Josh Thompson on Saturday as they recover from injuries. The good news for Texas is B.J. Foster, Chris Brown and Demarvion Overshown are all back in the lineup. Junior Cee Dee Lamb leads a cadre of Oklahoma wide receivers with big-play potential. Lamb has reeled in seven touchdowns for 439 yards and is averaging 24 yards per catch. Behind Lamb is sophmore Charleston Rambo, who has caught four touchdown passes for 383 yards. Rambo is averaging 27 yards per catch. With Texas’ secondary hobbled by injuries and youth, Oklahoma’s offensive gameplan involves exploiting those matchups at cornerback and wide receiver.
With two prolific offenses, this game is shaping up to be a shootout. On Thursday Tom Herman said he was pleased with his team’s preparation leading up to game day, and mentioned the LSU and West Virginia games as examples of big games that his players have played in and managed well. With an 11:00 am kickoff, players will get loose early and then line-up to run out of the same tunnel before exchanging unpleasantries and possibly a few hand signs.
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