A smattering of predictions for the 2010 Red River Shootout between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns from college football pundits extraordinaire:
Bud Elliot, Tomahawk Nation
It's always difficult to draw lines between teams with elite talent. But in this case, Oklahoma's offense has flashed the ability to be great while Texas' attack has only shown the ability to be decent. Both defenses are good and while I give the nod to Texas on that side of the ball, the the margin between Oklahoma's defense and Texas' offense favors the Sooners much more than the matchup between Oklahoma's offense and Texas' defense favors the Horns. I'd also give OU the special teams advantage with Broyles back to return.
Sooners 27, Texas 17.
Rob Harley, ABC 6 WSYX (Columbus)
I look at this year's Red River Shootout and it's a no-brainer to pick Oklahoma.
Although Texas has had the upper hand in the recent past, I really believe the Sooners make a statement with a big win in 2010. The Longhorn offense is lackluster to say the least, with the biggest question mark being the run game. Not to mention a young QB under center in his first rivalry start.
At the end of the day, Landry Jones and DeMarco Murray are too much for Texas. In any big game, you've got to rely on your trenches, and Oklahoma clearly has the edge. The other X-factor in the game is which defense will show up for both teams. Both units are speedy and aggressive, but mistakes have hurt these defenses. Texas' defense is their only hope of staying in the game, and if the Sooner defense can feed off their offense's success than chalk up the win.
The spread is 3, but I think OU pulls away by at least two scores.
Michael Gaio, Mizzourah
As Mizzou fans, we have great respect for both OU and UT. However, this year neither team seems to be it's dominant self. If Mizzou only beat Air Force and Utah State at home by three points, fans here would be freaking out. However, against Florida State (the only OU game I've seen from start to finish), Oklahoma showed what it's capable of when it's at its best. It's scary. I think Oklahoma is a more talented team than Texas. I also think they're better coached. I'm far from an expert on either team, but in this outsider's opinion I see Oklahoma beating Texas comfortably. I understand anything can happen in rivalry games, but I'll take Landry Jones, DeMarco Murray, and Ryan Broyles any day.
Prediction: Oklahoma, 35-24.
Daniel Mogollon, College Football Insiders/NFL Draft Bible
Texas is motivated not only to knock off their rival but, coming off last week's poor performance, to prove to the nation that they are a solid team. But Oklahoma is better.
The Sooners may get burned down the road if they continue to take teams lightly – see Utah State, Air Force and Cincinnati – but we saw what they can do when they are clicking, as they were against Florida State. Landry Jones to Ryan Broyles is the most prolific combination in the country, and DeMarco Murray gives them a balanced offense, something Texas has lacked since Jamaal Charles was there. As long as Jones doesn't get careless with the football, the Sooners offense will be fine.
Texas may have the best secondary in the country with Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown and Blake Gideon, so that is a legitimate concern for the Sooners. Top to bottom this is a talented Texas defense. However, major concerns lie on the offensive side of the ball, primarily with Garrett Gilbert. The sophomore quarterback has been up and down the last two weeks against Texas Tech and UCLA. I'm not convinced he's ready for his first Red River Rivalry. Look for big games from defensive end Jeremy Beal, weakside linebacker Travis Lewis (good in coverage, like UCLA's Akeem Ayers) and strongside linebacker Ronnell Lewis. Also, keep an eye on true freshman defensive back Tony Jefferson, who looks like he has the makings of a future superstar. He may be the best defensive back at OU since Roy Williams, and they've had some pretty good ones in between.
Oklahoma should win by seven to fourteen points, although if they jump out in front early, the margin could be bigger.
Score: Oklahoma 24, Texas 13.
John Walters, FanHouse.com
Before there were Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy, there was Adrian Peterson. And before there was Peterson, or A.D. (for "All Day"), there was Vince Young. And before Young there was Jason White. And before that Roy Williams. And the other Roy Williams...etc.
This year's Red River Rivalry (the Triple R Ranch of sporting events) features no such star power. The East Dillon Lions may have more recognizable names than either Oklahoma or Texas this season – and likely just as good a chance of playing in Glendale on January 10th.
Each year Mack Brown corrals the best talent the Lone Star State has to offer. This season, at least so far, that has not translated into any offensive firepower. Texas is 77th nationally in total offense and might better be dubbed the "Third-and-Longhorns."
McCoy, now with the Cleveland Browns, got married over the summer. The highlight of the nuptials was an original tune by former wideout and sidekick Jordan Shipley entitled "I Wish I Could Be Like Colt McCoy." Texas fans wish the same thing about Garrett Gilbert, who has struggled so far, tossing as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns.
Fortunately, the Longhorns may have the top defense in the nation, led by defensive linemen Sam Acho, Eddie Jones and true freshman defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. The burnt orange's better half, its defense, will match up against Oklahoma's better half, its offense. Second-year starter Landry Jones, who like Gilbert was thrust into the starring role last season – albeit much earlier – after the glamour QB was lost to injury, has far more weapons than Gilbert.
DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles arrived in Norman, or so it seems, about the same time as Rhett Bomar. Both are dynamic playmakers and have accounted for 12 touchdowns. The Longhorns have but nine.
Considering what we've come to expect from both squads – the winner of this contest goes on to lose in the BCS Championship Game if and only if the gang from Columbus loses twice – Saturday has the look of a downer. For the first time in years.
Texas has already lost at home to UCLA, and Oklahoma's 32-game home win streak was threatened by both Utah State and Air Force. It's early, but Nebraska looks to be better than either of their Big 12 South counterparts this season.
Still, it's the Texas State Fair, the Cotton Bowl, and this year, Fried Beer. The Red River Rivalry is just like pizza. Or fried pizza. Even when it's bad, it tastes better than most anything. Even fried beer.
Texas 14, OU 13.
Michael Felder, In The Bleachers
For me, as a guy who has picked OU as his national champion, I'm looking for more than just a win from the Sooners; what I'm looking for will be the establishment of an identity and disciplined play that will show they are capable of avoiding the pratfalls of the conference season. That being said, here is what I expect to actually transpire on Saturday:
Texas trying to find an offense. The Longhorns have clear issues running the football and without a true feature back OR the run-ready quarterback they've had for the last seven seasons. Their offensive line isn't built to do the drop back pass protection Garrett Gilbert requires and with offensive coordinator Greg Davis seeming to lack the "creativity" needed to make this juxtaposition of talents mesh. Texas has no doubt spent time engineering more wrinkles into the running attack to find some balance, and while the Horns will not be a running juggernaut Saturday, they will have some solid success running the football.
On defense the Horns are as solid as they come. Both Oklahoma and Texas boast defense that, while looking less than stellar at times this season, feature some of the nation's premier talent and coaching minds. Venables versus Muschamp is going to be a fun matchup to watch, as Muschamp uses his aggressive, dynamic schemes to put pressure to Landry Jones, while Venables thanks the heavens Gilbert isn't a mobile quarterback and uses his zone schemes to confuse and suffocate Texas' rushing and passing efforts.
OU's offense will live and die with Murray and Jones' success. DeMarco has struggled against Texas; since his freshman breakout game of 128 yards on 17 carries, Murray has totaled just 3 total rushing yards against the 'Horns. He'll need an effort similar to 2007 to help boost the Sooners over this tremendous Texas defense. On the air attack front expect Ryan Broyles to be given plenty of attention, and that means Kenny Stills, Dejuan Miller and Cameron Kenney will be left open early and often to prove they are worthy of the defense's attention. Murray will be active in the pass game, but these wideouts will have to step up to help Broyles if the Crimson and Cream are going to be successful against a Texas secondary that is among the nation's best.
I expect a slugfest similar in physicality to the game of a season ago. This will not be the pretty display of elite offenses that we saw in 2008, and that means it is going to be a tight game for the most part. Look for OU to push to establish the run early, while Texas feels its run and passing game out against ad OU defense that finally gets to be the aggressor after a couple weeks of being on their heels against mobile quarterbacks and option attacks. In the end Texas' defense is likely a notch better than OU's, but the Sooner's offense is far better than the 'Horns, so I expect a Sooner win in this edition of the Red River Shootout.
OU 27, Texas 17.
James Brown, Gators First
Though I'm 100 percent Gator, I've taken particular delight in following this game over the last several years – I've lived in DFW since 2006. I usually get out to the fair in all it's fried-food glory, and generally enjoy everything that comes with this particular weekend – I even rented a party bus with some friends, which took us around to the Dallas bars in '07, complete with keg on board. But my favorite part of the game would be arguing with Big XII fans that the SEC's marquee game (often Florida-LSU, this week Florida-Alabama) during this weekend is a better contest...
Texas and Oklahoma each entered the season needing to reset their respective programs – unquestionably, special talent was lost from both sides. For this reason, it was difficult for this non-Big XII fan to draw preseason conclusions about each side.
Luckily, the Longhorns made it a little easier in completely crapping the bed during their look-ahead game last week, while the Sooners were able to hold on to a victory during their own look-ahead contest. This merely confirmed my preseason prognostication, which was admittedly based more on the way Oklahoma has dominated the last decade in Big XII play (and has the edge in this rivalry) than on any specific knowledge of the players who would be filling the holes left by the departed talent.
Oklahoma holds a 6-4 edge in this game over the last decade, and a 6-2 edge in Big XII championships during that span. It seems to me that Bob Stoops has his program less reliant on the singular talents of great college quarterbacks such as McCoy and Young, and instead seems to have a system where whoever gets the starting nod becomes a Heisman candidate.
Throw in the fact that Stoops got his "new" quarterback experience during the disappointing 2009 campaign, and there's little reason to pick against Oklahoma here. I expect this game to be the usual flag football-esque offensive performance (little rushing, lots of passing) we've come to expect from the Big XII, and a perfect warm-up to the real game Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
Scott King, Bearcats Blog
I'm very interested in the OU-Texas game this season. I haven't been very impressed with Texas in the games that I have seen, and that was before the UCLA disaster. They've had their offensive woes.
The OU defense hasn't been very stout, and I think Texas can take some advantage of that. Garrett Gilbert is going to have to be more than alright if they are going to win.
The OU offense is pretty dynamic. If they can get Murray going this week, I think they could have a big day. I think the OU defense, while not great, causes enough turnovers and that will be the difference.
Darren Carlson, Big Red Network
As Husker fans, we at BRN have taken an obvious interest in the OU-UT game (The Red River Shootout, er, Rivalry, or whatever).
Like the rest of the Big 12, both teams have been inconsistent so far this season. Based on history and personnel, the BRN staff believes that the Sooners will prevail. The Longhorns tend to lose to OU in the years when they are coming off of a loss. And, DeMarco Murray is the best player on the field. Advantage Sooners.
For Husker fans, the real question is whether or not the 'Horns will be a wounded and struggling team or one with some renewed momentum when they visit Lincoln on October 16th.
Tom Perry, EyeAndEer
Last week's performances by Oklahoma and Texas should have made predicting this game easier. In fact, it made it much tougher.
The Sooners are undefeated and keep finding enough magic to win. The only real dominant performance was over Florida State.
On paper, the Longhorns should have rolled UCLA last week. However, the Bruins put a thumping on Mack Brown, and now UCLA is considered an offensive juggernaut. What does that mean for Saturday's Red River Rivalry? It means there are a hell of a lot of Sooner fans who know OU should win, but are fretting the idea of Texas pulling out a close game.
Crazy things happen in rivalry games, but Oklahoma is simply better than the Longhorns and should win by at least 10 on Saturday.
Aaron Torres, Aaron Torres Sports
Truthfully, every fiber in my body wants me to take Texas. Simply put, I don't trust Oklahoma any more than a Phillies fan would trust Brad Lidge to close out a Game 7 of the World Series right now. The Sooners are overdue for a Texas-sized butt whuppin' in the worst way. But it just isn't happening this weekend. Not against this particular Texas team.
Watching Texas get thrown around last weekend by UCLA (U-C freakin' L-A!!!) really was eye-opening for me. I knew the Longhorns needed work, but I had no idea they were that bad. They've got no running game to speak of, their quarterback is still eating Gerber, and I never thought I'd see the day where a Will Muschamp-coached defense got totally "out-physicaled." Which is what happened last Saturday. Forget Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley, this team misses Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston way more.
Big picture, obviously the Longhorns will be fine. I trust Mack Brown. But this weekend, they're playing the wrong game, against the wrong team at the wrong time.
Enjoy your fried beer, Sooners fans.
Oklahoma 24, Texas 14.
Patrick Johnston, In The Bleachers
Texas is looking for its 60th win in the Red River Shootout (the triple R is too awkward to say, and well, lame) and I think the Longhorns get it.
On the face of it, history seems to be against Texas. The Longhorns are only 4-15-2 in the Shootout when both they and Oklahoma are ranked in the Top 25 and Texas is the lower-ranked team. However, the series in this situation is split 1-1 since Mike Stoops and Bo Pelini left Norman. OU won in 2007, Texas won in 2008 – the year Will Muschamp, who is 3-0 in games against Bob Stoops' Sooners, started coaching the defense at Texas.
Speaking of the D, the Sooners' defense is a mess, coming into the game ranked 97th in total defense and 93rd in rush defense. Texas, on the other hand, is second in total defense and 20th in rush defense, even after allowing 264 rush yards to UCLA. I think the passing game will largely be a wash and the key will be who can run the ball. OU will feature DeMarco Murray, while Texas will likely use a few backs.
Texas should win that matchup and the game. Why? DeMarco Murray has had 11 100-yard rushing games and averaged 6.96 yards per carry for the Sooners in those games against 11 teams with an average of rank of 87.72 overall (note: two of these games were against the 115th ranked FCS rush defenses of Chattanooga and Idaho State, without them the FBS rank is 81.67). In the rest of Murray's games in his career (against defenses that average 39.46 overall) his average yards per carry is under 4 and his average total rushing yards is 59.88 on only 2.33 less carries per game than the 11 100-yard games.
Texas 23, Oklahoma 17.
Andrew Lawson, Bring on the Cats
Even before last Saturday's events, I thought Oklahoma was the better team. Mack Brown has had Bob Stoops' number one too many times of late, and the law of averages seemed to indicate the pendulum will shift back to the Sooners.
But now that UCLA has provided everyone and their dog with an easy way to violate the Longhorns' once-statistically sound defense, I expect DeMarco Murray to have a solid day on the ground. That should open things up nicely for Landry Jones, who likely is eager to atone for his two fourth-quarter interceptions in this game last season.
I don't think Texas will roll over and play dead, however. This is, after all, a rivalry game, or so ESPN tells me – incessantly. But the Longhorns offense has no identity, and I predict it will have trouble moving the ball on the ground or in the air, even against an Oklahoma defense that largely has been subpar this year.
If the Longhorns can't block a kick or spring a return, they'll be out of it by the end of the third quarter. Even then, Ryan Broyle very well could match whatever they manufacture on special teams. Oklahoma just has too many weapons and too much hatred to lose this game.
My prediction: Oklahoma 16, Texas 13.
John Stansberry, FoxSports.com
I see a few things that give me pause about this edition of the Sooners.
Landry Jones is closer to being Nate Hybl than he is to being Sam Bradford. The defense under Brent Venables has been unusally passive and is currently ranked 97th in the nation. And in the process of gutting out a tough win at Cincinnati, the Sooners had ZERO swagger.
But Texas is a train wreck of Lone Star State-sized proportions coming off that debacle against UCLA. On pride alone, I think the 'Horns will find a way to be competitive early against OU. However, the Sooner offense will make more big plays when it counts.
Darrell Owenby, SECRivals.com
In a game that is best described as 'non-cordial' at best and a knock-down-drag-down beating at the worst ... this year's Red River SHOOTOUT could be an interesting game.
Uncharacteristically, neither Oklahoma nor Texas have been able to establish much of a running game this season ... and both team's sport defenses that have trouble stopping the run. How does that match up? It all depends on who actually shows up to play this weekend.
OU has been very opportunistic this season while Texas has many fans shaking their heads. In the grand scheme of things ... With a win, Texas could throw a monkey wrench into OU's entire season ... With a loss, Texas
fans could very well realize that this is indeed a rebuilding year ... minus the time needed to actually reload the weapon.
At either rate, OU's No. 8 can only be hurt by Texas ... not helped ... With a loss, Texas will be somewhere they have not been in a while ... outside of the Top 25.
The Sooners should be able to corral the Longhorns early and then hook 'em by the time it is done ... OU 31, Texas 17.
Matthew Zemek, CFN
The Red River Rivalry evidently has an every-three-year plan to provide the worst dog-with-fleas football game imaginable. In 2001, offense took a holiday as OU won, 14-3, with one of the Sooners' two touchdowns coming on Roy Williams' strip of Chris Simms in the end zone. The 2004 game was a root-canal nightmare that someone had to win; Oklahoma took a 12-0 decision in what was Vince Young's worst college game. The 2007 game wasn't unwatchable, but it did feature stacks of turnovers that OU ballhawker Curtis Lofton profited from in a 28-21 Sooner victory.
Now, the 2010 edition of Horns-Sooners is poised to set back football several years. Texas and Oklahoma have tried to out-do each other in a twisted, upside-down version of "Can You (Not) Top This?" OU insisted on keeping Utah State competitive for a full 60 minutes in Norman. Texas pulled its (now) typical snooze-through-the-first-half-against-Wyoming stunt. Oklahoma allowed 351 rushing yards to Air Force in Norman. Texas slopped around and needed a Texas Tech taunting penalty to finish off a depleted Red Raider squad in Lubbock, in what was a game deprived of offense after the first 10 minutes. Texas upped the ante by losing to a UCLA team that played well. Oklahoma tried to do something even more spectacular, but failed by winning at Cincinnati, 31-29, after blowing most of a 24-9 third-quarter lead.
With two teams going downward and not upward, what else is there to say? Texas's rushing offense is the resistible force, Oklahoma's run defense the movable object. Time for the Horns to find some Bevo beef, and time for the Sooners to produce some pushback. If you have a good feel for what's going to happen in this game, you're lying.
Landry Jones has been markedly inconsistent. Garrett Gilbert has been worse. Sooners win by default.
Adam Kramer, Kegs 'N Eggs Blog
Although many will immediately jump on the Sooners after Texas inexcusably fell at home to UCLA, I'm not nearly as convinced. With that said, I do feel that Oklahoma will prevail in a very close game. The fact that Oklahoma opened as only a 4-point favorite is very telling in my eyes, and Vegas believes this will be tight. Although the Sooners have tons of offensive firepower, there's something about this rivalry that provides a certain bit of unpredictability.
I'll take Oklahoma by a field goal, 24-21.
Jay Beck, Turfburner.com
This game is going to be decided by the defenses. Which one shows up on Saturday?
Oklahoma's defense has given up over 400 yards in three of four games. The Texas defense is coming off a game where they got pushed around by a UCLA offense that had been anemic most of the season. The Sooner defense would seem to have the advantage in defending a Texas offense that has struggled to find any consistency through four games.
Oklahoma has the more polished offense, but will be going against a Texas secondary that is one of the best in the country. The turnover battle will be huge. Oklahoma will get one more than Texas and leave Dallas with the win.
Oklahoma 24, Texas 20.
Mark Ennis, Collision Course
A month into the season, I'm stunned to see Texas in the lower half of the nation in every offensive category. I'm also still in some form of disbelief that UCLA was able to go into Austin, complete just five passes, and beat Texas handily.
Meanwhile, I'm still not sure what to make of Oklahoma. Are they the team that looked unstoppable against Florida State, or the team that's look uninspired against Utah State, Air Force, and Cincinnati?
In a big game like this, I'd much rather be the team that needs to improve execution (Oklahoma) than the team searching for an identity on offense (Texas). Recent history suggests a very low-scoring affair, and I don't think this year's edition will deviate much from that trend. I look for Landry Jones and the Sooners passing game to get up early, and then get enough from the running of DeMarco Murray to put a relatively close game away.
Amanda Staver, BCSChick.com
With Texas coming off a big loss this past week at home to UCLA, they are in desperate need of a win this Saturday against the Sooners. Oklahoma has started off 4-0, but with three of those wins being an "almost loss," they are also in desperate mode.
So who wins the game? Texas needs to encourage Greg Davis to not be so "conservative" in his play calling. UT QB Garrett Gilbert broke high school passing records. Why not try and use Gilbert's arm instead of running the ball? That is what got him to Texas in the first place. With Davis calling "conservative" play calls throughout the season, waiting until the Red River Rivalry to bring out the playbook isn't going to help the cause.
Oklahoma needs to tighten up the defense. When the Sooners defense is keyed up, they are a force to be reckoned with. They completely shut down QB Christian Ponder during the Florida State game. But one of the main problems they have had has been their defensive consistency.
My Red River Rivalry prediction: The Longhorns have been struggling with turnovers, this won't change Saturday. The turnovers will be putting the ball into Landry Jones' and the Sooner offense hands, creating more opportunities to score. The Sooners will take advantage of the situation. The Oklahoma Sooners will win the battle of the River this year.
Philip Rossman-Reich, Rise Northwestern
The Red River Rivalry lost a lot of luster thanks to Texas' loss to UCLA. Now, that was a bad loss as evidenced by how far the Longhorns dropped in the polls. Oklahoma has been winning, but has not looked fantastic. A couple of close games against Air Force and Cincinnati possibly have the Sooners on as much rocky ground as the Longhorns.
But Oklahoma has a much more experienced group of players in guys like DeMarco Murray and Landry Jones. Garrett Gilbert has shown flashes but not in a big game like this. Remember the Sooners have already had a big game after dismantling Florida State in Week Two. Both teams will have their issues in this game, but the Sooners eke it out and pull away in the fourth.
UCLA – a team we declared unlikely to win more than two games this season after witnessing the Bruins embarrassing 35-0 loss to Stanford at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 11 – spit in our face last Saturday with a dominant 34-12 Bevo-thumping in Austin.
Texas has looked lost on offense (let's face it – Garrett Gilbert is no Colt McCoy) and the Horns' porous run defense again the Bruins to has make DeMarco Murray's mouth water.
That all being said, what exactly has Oklahoma done this season? OK, they shellacked a middle-of-the-pack ACC team in Florida State. Otherwise, the Sooners have defeated Utah State, Air Force and Cincinnati by an average margin of four points. And what has Bob Stoops done lately in big games? He's 1-4 in his last five tries against Texas and 0-5 in his last five BCS Bowls.
The Longhorns aren't going to a BCS game this season (we expect them to fall at Nebraska next week), but we still think they have something in the tank for Oklahoma. We like the Longhorns in a close one and can't wait to gorge ourselves in all the deep-fried goodness of the Texas State Fair for Texas-OU.
Bill Connelly, Football Outsiders and Rock M Nation
The ratings are almost dead even and suggest something like a 24-23 OU win. I am thinking, for whatever reason, that it won't end up being close. Whoever wins will do so by at least 10-12 points. So I'll say 33-20, Oklahoma.
Ty Hildenbrandt, The Solid Verbal Podcast
After picking Oklahoma to make the BCS Championship game, I've grown completely terrified of this year's version of the Sooners. One close game against a mediocre opponent would be fine, but with three already on its resume, I'm concerned this team will get dumped at some point, despite a workable schedule. But I don't think it will be this week. Texas is far from the title threat its been over the last few seasons, and last week's dud against UCLA all but proved it. In the true spirit of the Red River Shootout, I expect a tight game, but Oklahoma is the better team.
Chad Poitier, Here We Geaux
Going to High School and living in Austin after my time in the Army, the Texas-OU game has had my interest for a long time. With the loss to UCLA last week, Texas showed how undermanned this year's team really is.
I look for OU to run away with this one and the final score to be 35-12.