Photo Courtesy: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners will meet at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX for this year’s Red River Rivalry matchup. Today, our Devon Messinger and Dylan DeRaud name their x-factors to watch in Saturday’s top-15 contest in the YouTube video above.
Also, if you are interested in watching our duo discuss their biggest questions heading into this year’s Red River game, simply click here.
To watch their reaction to last weekend’s 40-14 win over the 24th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, click here.
While there will be many position group battles on Saturday, the biggest X-factor will be the Longhorns secondary. Thanks to Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel and a talented group of receivers, the Sooners present more of a threat in the passing game than any of Texas’ previous opponents this season. Additionally, the Texas secondary has shown a tendency to have a few busted coverages every game. The secondary will have to step up on Saturday in order to take away Oklahoma’s biggest offensive strength.
One of the critical X-factors to watch will be the Sooners’ running game going up against the formidable front seven of the Longhorns. Oklahoma has been a scoring machine this season, ranking third in the nation with an impressive 47.4 points per game. However, their passing attack has been the primary driver of their offensive success, as they rank seventh in the country with 352.5 passing yards per game. The running game, on the other hand, has been less potent, sitting at 66th nationally with an average of 157.6 rushing yards per game. This presents a significant challenge for Oklahoma as they face a Texas defense that is stout against the run, allowing only 94.6 rushing yards per game, ranking 18th in the nation.
To keep the Longhorn defense on its toes and maintain offensive balance, Oklahoma will need its running game, led by senior running back Marcus Major, to step up. Major has accumulated 199 yards on 51 carries with one touchdown this season, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. While his performance has been steady, it’s clear that Oklahoma needs a more explosive ground attack. The key will be to establish the run early and efficiently against Texas. The Sooners’ ability to do so could prove to be the decisive X-factor in this matchup, as it will not only open up opportunities in the passing game but also allow them to control the clock and keep the Longhorn offense off the field. Keep an eye on Marcus Major and the Oklahoma running game as they aim to find success against the tough Texas front seven in what promises to be an exciting clash.