Longhorns & Sooners Meet In Annual Red River Rivalry
By: Willie Bee
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Big Tex is on the job at the Texas State Fair that is in full swing in Dallas, which means folks are busy clogging their arteries with just about every food imaginable being deep fried.
It also means the Red River Rivalry is upon us as the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners prepare for their annual showdown this Saturday at the historic Cotton Bowl. Fans of both schools will still be nursing hangovers when the kickoff comes at 11:00 a.m. local time (noon Eastern), and you can bet the losing coach will be feeling similar effects with both teams entering the game with a loss on their ledger.
ABC will televise the 107th gridiron meeting between the schools, and Oklahoma is favored by a field goal as of lunchtime Tuesday. Saturday's total started at 63 but has been bet down to 61 on the latest college football odds.
Each team enters with a 4-1 overall record and 1-1 in Big 12 play. As is so often the case, OU and UT come in ranked in both mainstream polls with the Longhorns 15th in the AP and coaches rankings while the Sooners are 13th and 10th respectively. The updated Don Best Linemakers Poll sees this as a top-10 matchup; Oklahoma is sixth in the ratings, 1.5 points ahead of Texas in 10th.
Texas (3-2 against the spread) is a controversial call away from riding a 2-game losing skid into this year's clash. The 'Horns came from behind twice in the fourth quarter two weeks ago at Oklahoma State to eke out a 41-36 victory. Joe Bergeron scored Texas' winning TD on a short 2-yard run with 30 seconds remaining, but replays showed he may have fumbled the ball before breaking the plane.
That narrow escape came as 2-point road favorites, and was followed by a 48-45 loss to West Virginia in Austin last Saturday as 8-point chalk. Like every other team so far this season, Texas had no answer for Mountaineers QB Geno Smith who threw four touchdown passes. The Longhorn defense also had no answer for WVU tailback Andrew Buie who ran for over 200 yards and added three receptions for another 66 yards.
The last three Texas games have gone 'over' the total after beginning the season with a pair of 'unders,' and it hasn't been just the Longhorn offense contributing to the recent outcomes. Mack Brown has watched his defense surrender 115 points the past three contests while Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and West Virginia averaged 475 yards of offense. As a result, Texas has dropped to 76th in the nation in total defense (404 ypg) and 66th in scoring (26.4 ppg).
Bob Stoops brings Oklahoma (2-2 ATS) in off a 41-20 win and cover at the Texas Tech Red Raiders who entered that contest with the top-ranked defense in the land. The Sooners broke the game open with 17 points in the third quarter, and ran up 380 yards against a Tech stop unit that had allowed more than 200 yards just once in its previous four games, and surrendered 43 points total before OU tallied 41.
These games usually come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes, and Texas has the edge in turnover margin. Oklahoma is -2 in that column (6 turnovers, 4 takeaways) while the Longhorns are +7 and have picked off seven passes while throwing just one.
David Ash has been solid under center for UT, completing more than 77 percent of his passes for nearly 1,300 yards and throwing 11 TDs against that one INT. His 180.06 passer rating is third in the nation. Landry Jones is well down that list at No. 55 with a 135.51 mark, and has a 7:2 TD-to-interception ratio.
Texas owns a 59-42-5 edge in the series all-time, but Oklahoma has won and covered the past two meetings and is 8-5 against Texas since Stoops took the reins. It wasn't close a year ago when the Sooners popped the Longhorns by a 55-17 count, easily covering an 11-point spread. Three of the last four meetings have gone 'over.'
Weather could play a factor this Saturday when there's a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms in the D-FW metroplex. Even without rain, southerly gusts up to 25 mph might wreak havoc with the kicking games. The afternoon high is expected to reach the low-80s.