College Football Preview – Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns
One of the best rivalries in college football will move to the SEC in a few years. The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns announced that they were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC this summer. These teams have been the powerhouses in the Big 12 since joining the conference, and their annual showdown is a bucket list item for every college football fan since it will take place at the Texas State Fair. Neither team has looked great this year, but the winner of this game will be considered the frontrunner to win the Big 12.
College Gameday will head to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas to highlight the Red River Rivalry between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns on Saturday, October 9, 2021, at 12 p.m. ET on ABC.
College Football Betting Odds
Oklahoma is 5-0, but the Sooners have fallen four spots in the rankings from the start of the season. They have yet to beat an FBS opponent by more than a touchdown, and they were in real danger of losing to both Nebraska and West Virginia. The Sooners haven’t looked as sharp on offense as we have seen in recent years, greatly affecting this team’s ability to overcome a mediocre defense.
The Longhorns come into this game at 4-1. Texas was blitzed by Arkansas in its second game, but this team hammered Louisiana and Texas Tech before holding on to pick up a road win against TCU last Saturday. Steve Sarkisian is slowly turning this team into an SEC program, and that could give the Sooners trouble.
When Oklahoma Has the Ball
Spencer Rattler has been good, but not great, for the Sooners in 2021. Rattler entered the season as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, yet he has been unable to have the same success we have seen from recent Oklahoma quarterbacks. He has completed 76.3% of his passes for 1,260 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions through five games.
Oklahoma wants to run the ball more than it did in previous years under Lincoln Riley. Kennedy Brooks is averaging 5.9 YPC and Eric Gray is averaging 5.0 YPC, and Rattler is a mobile threat too.
The Longhorns haven’t been able to stop the run yet this season. Texas was pounded on the ground by Arkansas in its loss, and the front seven is surrendering 4.7 YPC and 172.4 YPG. The secondary has done a better job slowing down opponents.
When Texas Has the Ball
Texas’ offense has looked better since Casey Thompson took over for Hudson Card at quarterback. Thompson is completing 71.1% of his passes for 707 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions, and he is averaging 9.3 YPA. He is much more of a mobile threat than Card too, helping this offense grind out yards.
Bijan Robinson is a dark horse Heisman candidate. Robinson has already run for 652 yards and seven touchdowns, and he is averaging 6.2 YPC. This offensive line deserves a lot of credit though, as Roschon Johnson is averaging 7.1 YPC and Keilan Robinson is at 7.6 YPC.
The Sooners have the 26th ranked defense per SP+. Alex Grinch has made this defense better since he arrived in Norman, and the run defense has been excellent. Oklahoma is allowing just 2.9 YPC and 90.8 YPG on the ground. Unfortunately, the pass defense has struggled, and opponents are throwing for 271.0 YPG.
Oklahoma has not looked like itself, but Texas is not quite ready to topple the Sooners. The OU defense will rise to the occasion and Rattler will do enough for the Sooners to cover the number.
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