Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/9/13
This Saturday the 108th all-time meeting between Texas and Oklahoma will take place in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The week that is highlighted by the Texas State Fair and the annual Red River Rivalry is one that is looked forward to every year for college football fans everywhere. Texas leads the all-time series 59-43-5, but as of late has been controlled by Oklahoma. The last two meetings between the Sooners and Longhorns have been all Sooners all the time. In 2011 the Sooners beat the Longhorns 55-17 and last year Oklahoma won 63-21. The 84 combined points scored in last year’s game was the most ever in the 107 history of this rivalry. The Sooners have outscored the Longhorns 118-44 the past two meetings and the Longhorns never seemed to stand a chance either year. This year may be much of the same if the Longhorns continue their trend of poor play so far in the 2013 season. This year the Longhorns and Sooners enter this contest with completely different mindsets. The Longhorns have been struggling on defense all year, coaching changes, injuries and talk swirling around the status of head coach Mack Brown. It will be interesting to see how all of these factors influence the outcome of Saturday’s game and how motivated the Horns will be. The Sooners have been somewhat of a surprise so far this year. The Sooners started the year with red shirt freshman Trevor Knight at starting quarterback, but injuries sidelined him and gave current starter Blake Bell a chance. Bell has taken over and hasn’t looked back since becoming the starting quarterback. Bell’s passing ability has been a pleasant surprise for Sooners’ fans and the coaching staff. His running ability has never been a question mark and has continued to mix in his tough running game to help attack defenses. This year’s battle will be a crucial one when it comes to the status of Texas’ head coach Mack Brown. Brown’s status as head coach has been in question since the embarrassing week two loss to BYU. This prompted Texas and Brown to fire defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. The Horns replaced Diaz with former defensive coordinator, who last coached at Texas in 2004, Greg Robinson. Robinson has brought in a more simple style of defense, but still major improvements need to be made on the defensive side of the ball. Texas will look to help the fate of Brown and get a much needed win over Oklahoma. The Longhorns haven’t beaten the Sooners since a 16-13 win in 2009. The Longhorns have had quarterback issues since the departure of Colt McCoy and this year those problems have continued. Texas starting quarterback David Ash is out with a concussion and will be replaced with Case McCoy. McCoy started last week’s game against Iowa State in which he helped lead a crucial game winning drive to defeat the Cyclones 31-30. Case McCoy, Colt McCoy’s younger brother, has had experience in this contest before and the memories weren’t pleasant ones. McCoy took part in both the 2011 and 2012 beat downs and never seemed comfortable at any point in either meeting. McCoy and Ash split time the past two seasons and this year with no Ash all the pressure falls on McCoy’s shoulders. The Sooners enter this contest with a much improved defense from the past several of seasons. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops brought in his brother Mike Stoops to help improve the defense and it has seemed to work. The Stoops brothers will have less of a challenge game planning for Texas this year because of the injury to Ash. The Sooners will more than likely game plan towards stopping the run game that the Horns presents. Texas has a dynamic backfield of Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown that has been the key to success in the Horns victories this year. The combination of Gray and Brown will need to have a career day if Texas hopes to have any shot against Oklahoma this year. Gray has been the lead back as of late and will need to continue his tough running style to help take pressure off of quarterback Case McCoy. I feel the key of this game will be the intensity that the Longhorns bring on Saturday afternoon in Dallas. Texas seems to be at a cross roads so far this season and as a program overall. This win would do wonders for Texas and would give them confidence that they can compete for a Big 12 title. It will be a challenge to say the least with no Ash at quarterback. The Horns will need to run the ball effectively and keep the Oklahoma offense off the field. Texas on defense will have to control Bell’s running plays and make him beat them in the passing game to have a chance. The Longhorns rush defense has been historically bad the past two seasons and Bell could cause those issues to be glorified Saturday. My final analysis of this matchup is that Texas will play inspired because of the underdog role that they very seldom have a chance to enjoy. The Sooners’ offense isn’t as explosive this year as it has been the past two years with former quarterback Landry Jones. I feel people are forgetting this will be the first time Bell has been starter and got a significant amount of playing time in this rivalry game. No one knows how he will react to the electric atmosphere, but his defense should be enough to get the job done for Oklahoma. I see Oklahoma winning this game pretty convincingly over Texas with a strong defense and a lack of offense for Texas. The quarterback position of Texas with Case McCoy is going to be an issue for the Horns and with an improved defense by Oklahoma this year the Texas running game will not be enough to get them over the hump. Oklahoma wins this game 42-21 with a strong defensive performance from the Sooners. Texas will keep it close early, but eventually the absence of Ash will be too much to overcome for the Longhorns. This game will put the Sooners right in the national and Big 12 title picture. The Longhorns will have to go through another week of answering questions about the status of head coach Brown if they fall short yet again in the Red River Rivalry.One thing is for sure; every year this game has something happen that seems to be unexpected. This year the Longhorns are huge underdogs and could use that to their advantage. Texas and Oklahoma have played some classics over the years and we can only hope this year falls into that category. Texas vs. Oklahoma is always a rivalry that excites the college football world and this year should be no different.
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