For the second consecutive year, Texas enter the Red River Showdown unranked, and as huge underdogs to Oklahoma, also coming off a loss. Last year it worked out fine for the Longhorns, but there haven’t been too many indications that they’ll be able to repeat that surprising win.
Texas and Oklahoma will be facing off in Dallas, at the Cotton Bowl, for the 109th time. Texas have the all-time series lead (60-43-5) but have won just once in the last four meetings, including losing by 42 points in 2012 and by 38 points in 2011. Mack Brown is no longer with the team, but the cleaning house approach from new head coach Charlie Strong isn’t paying dividends just yet, and it’s going to be difficult to show a turning point against the number 11 team in the nation.
The biggest problem for Texas is putting points on the board. They did score 38 points in the season opener against North Texas, but that is almost like a fluke. David Ash was the quarterback is that game. He’s no retired from the sport, while Tyrone Swoopes, a sophomore, has taken over. With him at the helm and against much more difficult opponents, Texas have been averaging just 13.2 points per game. He is ranked 97th in the nation in passing efficiency, throwing for just five touchdown passes with a 59% completion percentage.
They lost by 34 points at home to BYU, at home to UCLA and a backup quarterback and most recently got routed by Baylor while putting up just seven points, also at home. Their defense is ranked 4th in the nation in terms of efficiency, but not being able to put up points against less than powerhouse teams is a huge worry against Oklahoma, who might not be heading into this game in perfect shape after their loss to TCU, but will still be able to score.
The Sooners were stunned by the Horned Frogs, suffering from an awful game from Trevor Knight. Maybe he got excited from Katy Perry showing her affection towards him on College Gameday, but he’s never been the most accurate of quarterbacks, completing just 54.5% of his passes so far this season, throwing the same number of interceptions as he has for touchdowns. He completed just 14 of 35 passes in the loss to TCU.
The worst news for Texas is that Oklahoma haven’t scored less than 33 points in a game this season. Their 33 in the loss to TCU is a season low, and they’re featuring Samaje Perine at running back with eight touchdowns already this season, but their biggest weapon is probably Sterling Shepard, catching 30 passes for 651 yards and three touchdowns. Texas don’t have that caliber of playmakers aboard, averaging just 1.3 yards after contact per rush this season, the worst among power five conferences.
We’ve seen surprising in this clash over the years, and last year was quite the big one too, but it doesn’t seem like Texas were in such a bad place, such a low point as they are at the moment. Oklahoma might still be the best team in the Big 12, and playing in that special atmosphere that the rivalry brings out of the Cotton Bowl is the perfect opportunity to showcase that potential dominance.