The #11-ranked Texas Longhorns get their first big test of the season today as they welcome the #3-ranked Oklahoma Sooners into a Big 12 clash between two unbeatens at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Meeting head to head for just the 2nd time in the last 7 years as undefeated teams, this contest today has a newly energized sense of importance especially as the Texas Longhorns continue to rebuild and improve their program, and could move into the Top-10 and past Oklahoma in the College Football rankings after starting the season unranked for the first time since 1998. While Oklahoma has slipped a little from its preseason #1 ranking, the Sooners haven’t really fallen off pace, but rather haven’t had the big victories (aside from beating #5 Florida State on the road) to keep them solidified as a #1 team. This match-up certainly could serve the Sooners as a bounce back from their showing against Missouri two weeks ago, where they found themselves down at home for the first time in over 20 games.
The match-up on the field in today’s game is certainly intriguing, as both teams come in with very similar team statistics, aside from one glaring contrast at the quarterback position. While Oklahoma, led by junior QB Landry Jones continues to pile up the passing yards (379.8 yards/game, 5th in FBS), Texas has really struggled to find consistency with their quarterback arrangement, netting just 223 yards/game (78th in the FBS) behind Case McCoy, Garrett Gilbert and freshman David Ash. While Landry Jones has seen Texas 3 times as a starter into his third year of play, McCoy and Ash will be in their first Red River Rivalry today, and Gilbert has not really impressed anyone this season (48 percent completion, 1 TD, 2 INTs). Averaging over 8 points of offense less than Oklahoma, this could be a big area to watch for in today’s game, as Jones and his main target Ryan Broyles (playing in his 4th rivalry game) are plenty comfortable in front of the big lights on the big stage in Texas.
Texas is going to have to find and establish a run game in today’s contest, something that will be tough to do against a Sooners team only allowing 15.3 points per game (11th in the FBS). Though they managed to put up big points last week at then-undefeated Iowa State (taking a 34-0 lead at the half, then shutting down the offense), we’re taking a different beast with OU, which comes into the contest off a 62-6 win over Ball State while allowing just 200 yards of total offense. Though they gave up a massive 532 yards of offense earlier in the year against Missouri, Bob Stoops’ crew has battled back from a few key injuries, and should be set to hold down the fort in today’s game.
Betting Lines for #3 Oklahoma at #11 Texas
Sportsbetting.ag Sportsbook gets our wagers for today’s contest, and checking out the betting lines at this top online sportsbook, Texas comes in at home as an 11-point underdog, which should give them something to strive to beat, if not lock in an upset at home altogether. Oklahoma is at -450 odds to win, while Texas is +350 on the money line, and the over/under for the game stands at 56 points, meaning we’re most likely to see some serious offense in this game on one side, the other, or for both teams.
Our Pick to Win:
The Oklahoma Sooners were ranked #1 in the preseason for a reason, and despite a few ‘setbacks’ they are pretty much the exact same team that earned their big ranking before the season started. It’s hard to see how Texas is a contender in this contest, much the same as it was difficult to see Nebraska as a contender against Wisconsin last week, but at least the Longhorns will benefit from a home field audience in today’s clash. Oklahoma is simply to experienced to be overcome by Texas. Though they rank lower in the rushing game (44th vs. 25th), the Sooner D may erase that difference today by holding Texas’ leading rusher Malcolm Brown in check and forcing the passing game to work overtime and from behind most of the game. With little threat in the passing game to contend with, Oklahoma should be able to roll through the Sugar Bowl with a win, beating Texas 35-21 and putting another Top-15 win under their belt towards their shot at the national title.
Players to Watch, Oklahoma:
Landry Jones, QB – Surpassing the school record at OU for most 300 yard games in a career, Jones isn’t done yet by a long shot in putting up huge numbers in the passing game. While Texas has been solid on defense this season (14.8 points allowed, 12th in FBS), they are going to get rung up for some big yardage plays as we expect the Sooners offense to put up 300-350 yards through the air.
Dominique Whaley, RB – Whaley has put up all his big yardage games against less talented defenses, and has been held to 71 yards or less in big match-ups against Florida State and Missouri. He’s averaging 5.4 yards/carry on the season however, and should see 20 touches in this match-up as the OU offense looks for a balanced approach to Texas. Look for him to get his first 100-yard game against a top opponent today.
Players to Watch, Texas:
Case McCoy, QB – The younger McCoy needs to come up big on the big stage in Texas today. He’s yet to have more than 12 completions in a game, however his accuracy has been very good, at 70.3 percent on the year. Though he’ll mix in time with Garrett Gilbert and perhaps David Ash, McCoy should be the one to make any real difference in this ballgame.
Malcolm Brown, RB – Brown might find the going tough tonight against a pretty solid OU defense, but he’s going to need to find a breakaway somewhere in this game to spark the Texas offense, especially if the passing game struggles. Coming off a sub-par outing at Iowa State (15 rushes, 63 yards, discounting his one 22 yard scramble puts him under 4 yards/carry), the Texas O-line needs to give Brown better room to run today if Texas is to stand any chance.