Texas vs. Oklahoma prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the game between the Longhorns and Sooners.
Texas vs. Oklahoma Game Preview
When: Saturday, October 8 – 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
It’s the 111th edition of the Red River Rivalry, a game Charlie Strong absolutely, positively must win. What else is new? Strong, who flashed early signs of escaping the hot seat, is back on double secret probation after his Longhorns dropped consecutive shootouts to Cal and Oklahoma State. The loss in Stillwater was especially troubling, because Texas operated with a level of ineptitude that was reminiscent of the staff’s first two seasons in Austin.
Well, look who’s back in the Big 12 spotlight. Oklahoma, given up for dead after ugly losses to Houston and Ohio State, jumped all over TCU last Saturday and held on for a potential season-pivoting 52-46 win in Fort Worth. The Sooners have issues, and Bob Stoops is dealing with his own group of surly boosters. But the team is also entering a portion of the schedule tailored for a rebound. And there’ll be no shortage of motivation this weekend, particularly since the Horns handed OU its only regular season loss of 2015.
What To Know About Texas
The Horns appeared to be peeking around the corner after beating Notre Dame and UTEP to start the season. But then old wounds began to reopen, such as poor tackling and special teams miscues. Cal quarterback Davis Webb carved up a young secondary, and a balanced Oklahoma State attack ripped the Horns for 555 yards. In the aftermath, coordinator Vance Bedford has been demoted and Strong will now call defensive plays. Just what the head guy needs: more pressure to deliver. Lost in the skid has been the impact of the other coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, whose offense has done its part to win games. Shane Buechele is the franchise under center and D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III have been battering rams between the tackles, though both backs were injured Saturday, forcing rookie Kyle Porter into action.
What to Know About Oklahoma
The Sooners are flawed, more than most anticipated before the season began. But in the Big 12, flawed won’t necessarily eliminate a team from league contention. In many ways, Oklahoma and Texas are looking in the mirror; both have the weapons to survive in shootouts and the defensive holes to be, well, dragged into too many shootouts. Baker Mayfield will play with a chip on his shoulder, because that’s built into his brand. And he’ll get help from OU’s version of Foreman and Warren, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, as well as wideout Dede Westbrook, who’s coming off the best game of his career. Mike Stoops’ defense is a different story, especially in the secondary. Buechele will target a pass defense that’s allowed 13 touchdown passes, has picked off just one and ranks 122nd nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Offense: Oklahoma. The Sooners boast the better quarterback and the healthier backs entering Week 6.
Defense: Push. Both programs have been equally feeble at making stops and wrapping up in space, particularly when opposing quarterbacks are dropping back to throw.
Special Teams: Oklahoma. Three blocked extra points in Stillwater were emblematic of Texas’ special teams woes. Plus, the Sooners house a triple-threat in kicking specialist Austin Seibert.
Coaching: Oklahoma. Pile on Bob Stoops if you must, but he’s still one of the premier coaches at this level. The battle of the offensive coordinators, Gilbert and Lincoln Riley, will be an intriguing one not lost on ADs around the country.
Intangibles: Oklahoma. The Sooners have the momentum and added motivation after falling last year in the Cotton Bowl.
Matchup To Watch
The Texas D-line vs. the Oklahoma O-line
If there’s an area that the Texas defense might be able to exploit, it’s a shaky Sooner front wall that’s allowed 13 sacks through four games. Oklahoma has shuffled around the alignment, and it largely worked last week in Fort Worth. But the Horns have done a decent job of generating pressure, including a pair of sacks from free safety Jason Hall in Week 5.
Texas vs. Oklahoma Betting Odds
Spread: Oklahoma -10.5
Texas vs. Oklahoma Prediction
This could be Strong’s last stand. Ultimately, it’ll be one of the final nails in his Texas coaching coffin. Oklahoma is beatable, namely in the trenches. But the Longhorns are heading in the wrong direction, and with chatter swirling about the their coach’s future, the pressure will become insurmountable for such a young team. The Sooners, meanwhile, have located solid footing, relatively speaking. They have the luxury of a veteran quarterback who’s played in this game before and the healthier overall backfield. It’ll be high scoring, at times sloppy and extremely tense and emotional throughout. In the end, Mayfield will be the hero, guiding the Sooners to a second straight win and a perfect start in Big 12 play.
Texas vs. Oklahoma Score Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Texas 33