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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Game Preview: Red River Shootout

Cotton Bowl

No. 10 Oklahoma (3-1) vs. No. 15 Texas (3-1)
Oct. 13, 11:00 a.m.
Cotton Bowl (Dallas)
TV: ABC
Line: OU -3

Series: 107th Meeting; UT leads 59-42-5

GAME OUTLOOK

Damien WilliamsThe Sooners showed a lot of character in last week’s win over Texas Tech and have confidence heading into Dallas this week.

Texas’ offense has improved this year since Mack Brown settled on one quarterback… David Ash has completed 77.5 percent of his passes this year for a passer rating of 180.1… Last year Ash completed 56.9 percent and finished with a 107.4 rating… His three top targets (Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin) have combined for 56 receptions for 690 yards and 8 touchdowns… Most defensive strategies target stopping the run first, and this is no exception… The ’Horns have run the ball nearly 59 percent of the time this year… Their three top rushers (Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray) average 5.1 yards per carry combined and have scored a total of 12 TDs.

UT’s defense was expected to be its strength this year… The D has dropped from 11th nationally in total yards (306.8) a year ago to 74th (404.2 yards per game) so far this year… The run defense has dipped from 6th (96.2 yards per game) in 2011 to 83rd (182.4 per game)… Plus, the team that has more rushing yards in the Red River Rivalry has won every game since 1998… So, the Sooners must feed their running backs if they want to win… Texas gave up an average 233.5 rushing yards per game (5.7 per carry) in its last two outings.

Alex OkaforThe Steers’ Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat will be one of the best defensive end combos the Sooners will face all year… The duo has combined for 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage, including 10 sacks, 18 quarterback hurries and 4 forced fumbles… Linebacker Steve Edmond and safety Kenny Vaccaro lead the team with 33 tackles each… The Horns have picked off seven passes and broken up or deflected 33 more.

Punter Alex King leads the special teams with an average of 45.7 yards per kick… Quandre Diggs has averaged 16 yards per punt return… Texas averages 26.5 yards per kickoff return, led by Marquise Goodwin’s 30-yard average… Placekicking has been a weakness… Nick Jordan has hit 21 of 22 PATs, but he and Penn State transfer Anthony Fera have combined to make only 4 of 9 field goals.

The Sooners MUST open the running lanes in addition to protecting Landry Jones to give him time to have success… OU’s front wall has been disciplined with only one false start and one holding call… It must be disciplined versus the Texas defensive front.

Jones and Kenny Stills have been stars for OU versus the Horns the past two years—Jones has completed 55 of 89 passes (61.8 percent) for 603 yards with 5 TDs and 0 INTs; Stills has caught 10 balls for 129 yards and 3 TDs… Look for Justin Brown, Sterling Shepard and Damien Williams to again step up and help the receiving corps this week… Jalen Saunders (a transfer from Fresno State) has been declared eligible and has been a standout in practices.

OU’s defense must be patient and not bust assignments… Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin played tremendous football in relieving Tom Wort Corey Nelson at linebackers… Aaron Colvin is a beast at corner, and Javon Harris has really improved at strong safety... Still, it’ll come down to how well the front four performs…. Casey Walker was dominant last week against Tech and will be vital to help stop the Steers’ run game.

The Sooners’ offense must mix up the plays and keep the Texas defense guessing… Make some big plays to maintain momentum and convert third downs… Don’t turn over the ball and keep penalties to a minimum… Texas is No. 2 nationally in third-down conversions (58 percent), so OU’s D must make big stops on first and second downs, wrap up the big UT running backs and pressure Ash into errors… If they succeed, they will be taking home the Golden Hat Trophy for the third straight year.


Bob Stoops and Mack Brown

ETC.

*OU is the home team.

*This is the 67th straight sellout in the series.

*UT leads 47-38-4 in Dallas.

*46 of these match-ups have been decided by seven points or fewer.

*Since the AP poll began in 1936, at least one of these two teams has been ranked 63 times (including this year) prior to their meeting; the lower ranked team has won only 12 times.

*This is the AP poll’s 77th year of ranking teams. OU and Texas both have entered the rivalry ranked 38 times (including this year); 16 times both were in the top 10 and nine times both were ranked in the top five.

*OU is 27-18-2 when ranked higher; 8-1 under Stoops.

*Stoops and Brown have previously met 13 times in this rivalry; Stoops leads 8-5.

*Stoops and Brown have met five times with a morning kickoff in the series; Stoops leads 3-2.

*OU is 5-8-1 in games played on Oct. 13.

*UT is 15-3-1 in game played on Oct. 13, including three straight wins.

*Both teams have met nine times on Oct. 13; Texas leads 6-2-1.

*During the Bob Stoops era (1999-2011), the higher-ranked team has won 13 of 14 times; the lone exception was 2008, when No. 5 Texas beat No. 1 OU, 45-35.

*During the Stoops era, the betting favorite has won 10 of 14 times.

*Since 1998, the team that has rushed for more yards has won every year, except 2006 when both rushed for 124 yards.

*Texas leads 13-10-2 in games played during a presidential election year.

*Since 1956 both teams have alternated home jerseys and road whites. Since then, OU is 11-16-1 in white jerseys; 13-13-2 in red jerseys.