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Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners: Preview and Pick

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On 10/06/2013 10:53 AM in NCAA Football
Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners: Preview and Pick

There may be no bigger rivalry in all of college football than the Red River Rivalry. This rivalry features two talented teams in the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners. These two teams are headed in opposite direction as the Longhorns are struggling, while the Sooners are succeeding.

Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners Odds

The college football odds for this game opened up with the Sooners listed as double digit favorites. The opening line is (-11.5) for the Sooners as they have played better so far in the season. The Longhorns will be an interesting underdog to watch. Check the top rated sportsbooks for the latest move on this line leading up to kickoff.

If Texas is going to beat Oklahoma they will have to do it without their starting quarterback. Texas' backup quarterback Case McCoy will start under center when the Longhorns play Oklahoma in the 108th edition of the Red Rivalry next Saturday. The school announced that McCoy, not David Ash, will be the starter against the Sooners. McCoy completed 26 of 45 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown in the win at Iowa State on Thursday, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard sneak after Johnathan Gray nearly fumbled the game away.

David Ash has missed all or part of Texas' previous four games due to a head injury or concussion-like symptoms. He played the first half of the Big 12 opener against Kansas State on Sept. 21, but didn't return after halftime due to a possible head injury. McCoy's challenge will be jump-starting an inconsistent offense against a Sooners defense that has been one of the most impressive units in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma will look to defeat Texas again and the result could cost Mack Brown his job.

The latest college football betting trends reveal some interesting angles leading up to kickoff of this big rivalry game. The total has gone over in 4 of Texas's last 5 games when playing Oklahoma and the total has gone over in 6 of Texas's last 7 games. Texas is 4-9 straight up in its last 13 games when playing Oklahoma and 1-3-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 5 games when playing Oklahoma. Oklahoma is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games and Texas is 13-6 straight up in its last 19 games.

Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.
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10/07/2013 03:14 PM
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops confirmed Sunday that Sooners linebacker Corey Nelson suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle in Saturday’s win vs. TCU.

Nelson is currently scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday that will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season.

The senior defensive co-captain was second on the team with 27 tackles through five games this season. He also had a 24-yard interception return touchdown, four pass breakups and a sack.

OU will certainly miss his athleticism and playmaking ability, especially once it delves into the heart of the Big 12 schedule.

The Sooners will likely turn to junior Aaron Franklin or freshman Dominique Alexander to take Nelson’s place.
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Pfile Nickname coleryan
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10/07/2013 03:30 PM
Bob Stoops was asked an interesting question at his press conference Monday. What does he consider to be the hallmarks of the OU football “culture”?

It’s not the kind of question that can easily be answered off the top of your head. But Stoops gave a revealing answer.

“One that continually tries to develop its players,” Stoops said.

Good answer. Player development – be it Jason White or Keenan Clayton or Chris Messner or a hundred other guys – has been at the cornerstone of Stoops’ great Sooner success.

That’s not to say that the Sooners don’t recruit well. In fact, Stoops shot down the idea that Texas outrecruits OU, and the Sooners make it up on the back end.

Sure, Texas gets more five- and four-star recruits than OU (or most anyone else). But much of that is politics.

“I feel as far as recruiting, we like whatever stars we got,” Stoops said. “We like our players. Meaning when we recruit a guy, it isn’t because of how many stars. We may like how he fits, or like some of his intangibles, or we like how tough he is.

“That part of it, we’ve got good players, too. So fortunately, in some of these games, the last few, we’ve played well.”

But Stoops takes pride in the player development. Takes pride in “demanding” a lot out of his players.

“I’m not afraid to say demanding in what we expect and how to work in the offseason, how to work during the season,” Stoops said. “Most players, they want to be in the NFL, they want to be all-American type players. Only way that works if we’re demanding. Maybe we do it better one year than another. But we’ve got to make sure we continue to challenge our players.”

Whatever the reason for the success of the culture, Stoops is 9-5 against Texas. Bud Wilkinson went 9-8 against the Longhorns. Barry Switzer went 9-5-2.

Beat Texas on Saturday, and Stoops will have the OU record for most wins ever against the Longhorns.

Only Matty Bell and Jess Nealy have beaten the ‘Horns more. Nealy went 11-16 against Texas from 1940-66. Bell went 11-4-2 against Texas while coaching TCU from 1923-28, Texas A&M from 1929-33 and SMU from 1935-41 and 1945-49.
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10/07/2013 03:31 PM
Texas junior quarterback David Ash will not play next Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners due to lingering effects of a head injury, the school said Saturday.

Case McCoy will make his third start this season in the Red River Rivalry game at Dallas.

Ash has missed 2½ games this season while recovering from a concussion suffered Sept. 7. He returned to play in the first half of Texas' 31-21 win over Kansas State two weeks ago but was pulled from the game at halftime due to symptoms related to his concussion.

In the 10 quarters he has played this season, Ash has passed for 760 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions.

Ash did not travel to Texas' 31-30 win against Iowa State on Thursday. In his place, McCoy threw for 244 yards and a touchdown on 26-of-45 passing and rallied the Longhorns with the third fourth-quarter comeback of his career.

Texas coach Mack Brown hasn't disclosed what setback Ash suffered during halftime of the Kansas State win. But Brown has said he's leaving the decision on Ash's status to team doctors. The Oklahoma game will be 21 days since Ash's last start for the Longhorns.

Last year against Oklahoma, McCoy relieved an injured Ash in the fourth quarter of Texas' 63-21 loss and threw for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Texas also announced Saturday that backup cornerback Sheroid Evans suffered a torn ACL against Iowa State and is done for the season.
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10/08/2013 02:52 PM
There's a lot more drama than normal leading into this year's Red River Rivalry game between the Sooners and Longhorns. Oklahoma is looking to reestablish their position as the top dog in the conference after experience a bit of a drop off over the last couple of years. A 5-0 start has OU thinking conference championship but, as usual, the Longhorns are standing in the way.

Texas is either looking to save Mack Brown's job or see him get fired, depending on which side of the fence you're on, and expectations are as low as they've been in a long while heading into this game. A 1-2 start to the season had the Longhorns reeling but a defensive coaching change and a favorable early conference schedule has the Longhorns riding a two-game winning streak as they head to Dallas.

Case McCoy has taken over as quarterback due to an injury to David Ash and has performed admirably. He's completed 60% of his passes for 574 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He's in charge of a Texas passing attack that averaged 266.8 yards per game, which ranks them 42nd nationally.

McCoy can be best described as a game manager who isn't tasked with making the critical play but rather protect the ball and make sound decisions. Arm strength and accuracy are issues with him on the deep ball which means the Sooners will possibly press underneath and force McCoy into multiple reads.

"We have to keep him (McCoy) off balance with what we are trying to do and give them some different looks. Those are all important elements of every game plan and it will be very critical again Saturday to try and create some confusion with him." - Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops

Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis have been the two favorite targets for the Texas quarterbacks. Shipley's 27 receptions is one better than Davis who leads the team with four touchdown receptions. The duo, along with Kendall Sanders, are averaging over ten yards per reception and are all capable of making things happen with the ball in their hands.

The Longhorn rushing attack is powered by sophomore Jonathan Gray who is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. His best game came against Kansas State when he ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. The injury to Ash took a little away from the Texas running game as he is second on the team in carries and yards but that won't diminish the potential of what Gray can do against a Sooner defense has has had some struggles against the run this season.

Upfront the Texas offensive line has helped pave the way to a team average of 5.0 yards per carry. They have the size and power to open up running lanes but have also been overpowered at times this year. They've also seen their quarterbacks sacked a combined total of nine times in five games.

The x-factor for Oklahoma in facing the Texas offense on Saturday is what, if anything, the Longhorns plan on doing with freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. A duel threat talent from Whitewright, TX, Swoopes has the athleticism and speed to change a game plan if he can handle the pressure of the rivalry and atmosphere. Co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt said that he believes Swoopes is ready to play.

On the defensive side of the ball the Longhorns rank 77th nationally in points allowed with an average of 28.4 per game. Their major struggle has come against the rush where they are dead last in the Big XII with opponents averaging 248.4 yards per game on the ground. Much of that can be attributed to the 550 rushing yards that BYU produced against them but even in the three games since the departure of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz the Longhorns are still giving up an average of 196 yards on the ground.

Texas is much better against the pass which would lead us to believe that Oklahoma will use play-action to try to set up their passing game. The Longhorns are fourth in the conference against the pass with opposing quarterbacks connecting on 59.2% of their attempts for an average of 217 yards per game. The question we have to ask here is how much has opponent run success led to the defensive passing stats? The opponent completion percentage is the third highest in the conference (Iowa State and Kansas State are worse) and just five of the sixteen touchdowns scored against Texas this season have come through the air. The Longhorns have in turn nabbed three interceptions.

They say in rivalries like this that you have to throw everything out the window and that has proven itself true over the 107 year history to the Red River Shootout. However, its hard not to look at the current state of the Texas football program and not be confident. Be warned though, its when you're the most confident that disaster often strikes.
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10/10/2013 12:35 AM
The Texas defense has been bad. A fire-the-coordinator-after-two-game kind of bad.

And even though that change has brought about some improvement, the defense is still giving up big points and big plays as Texas headed into Saturday's annual showdown with Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The No. 12 Sooners have settled into a groove behind quarterback Blake Bell just in time for a rivalry that has been an embarrassment for the Longhorns the last two years.

Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) has averaged 54 points against the Longhorns (3-2, 2-0) the last two games, including a 63-21 rout last year, and have put the game out of reach by halftime.

"I don't want to talk about last year," Texas junior defensive back Quandre Diggs. "This isn't the 2012 Texas Longhorns."

The talk about the 2013 defense hasn't been so good, either.

Texas was ranked No. 15 before a 40-21 loss at BYU in the second game. The Longhorns surrendered a school record 550 yards rushing against BYU and coach Mack Brown fired second-year coordinator Manny Diaz the next day.

Brown hired Greg Robinson, who had served one season as the Longhorns' coordinator in 2004. In Robinson's first game against Mississippi, Texas led 23-14 in the second quarter before losing 44-23.

Texas rebounded with a win over Kansas State and escaped Iowa State 31-30, but only after giving up a 97-yard touchdown pass and surrendering a lead three times. But the defense also made some big plays, holding the Cyclones to a field goal in the final four minutes instead of game-breaking touchdown, and forcing an interception to end Iowa State's last drive. The Longhorns forced three turnovers in the second half against Kansas State.

Against the Sooners, the key will be not giving up a big early lead. In each of the last two years, Oklahoma ran the Longhorns out of the game by halftime.

"They were more physical than us," Brown said. "The games were over before they started."

The Sooners have a rushing attack that would seem perfectly suited to hammer Texas' weakness against the run. Oklahoma averages 246 yards rushing per game and Bell, whose nickname is the "Belldozer," ran for four touchdowns against the Longhorns last season

"We still have to find different ways to get him running the football and trying to break him loose from time to time," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.

In Robinson's only previous game against Oklahoma in 2004, Adrian Peterson rushed for 225 yards but Texas allowed only one touchdown in a 12-0 loss. But that game is ancient history even to Robinson, who struggled to remember the year when asked about it on Monday.

"When was that? Oh, `04 yeah. Yeah, that was a while ago," Robinson said. "I think (this year) is an opportunity for us."

But last year is still very much on the minds of the Longhorns, even Diggs. He doesn't want to talk about it, but certainly remembers it and expects his teammates to use it as motivation.

"I'm angry about it," Diggs said. "And I'll demand anger from everybody this week."
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10/10/2013 01:56 PM
Texas is a two-touchdown underdog against a No. 12 Oklahoma outfit with a hard-earned undefeated record and a three-game winning streak in the Red River Rivalry. What must the Longhorns do to change all that?

This is hardly a comprehensive blueprint of what they must achieve on Saturday. It’s sorted more by chronology than priority. There’s plenty that has been left out -- like the coaching matchup, special teams, the possibility of some McCoy magic – and this checklist might mean almost nothing after the clock strikes 11 a.m. at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

But if you’re throwing the rivalry’s recent history out the window and are feeling truly optimistic about Texas’ chances, here are 10 things that probably have to happen for this team to emerge victorious.

1. Wake up and start fast
Texas went three-and-out on all three of its first-quarter drives in 2012 and did not have a possession of more than four plays in the first half. It’s easy to fall behind 34 points before halftime when your offense is that inept. The Longhorns have taken 10-0 leads to start each of their games in the last two weeks. Can Texas overcome the fact it hasn’t played a single morning or afternoon game this season and actually begin this one with momentum on its side?

2. Be the physical team
Oklahoma has been the more physical team in its three consecutive Red River victories. Mack Brown admits that. This should start with the Longhorns offensive line, an inconsistent group that needs its finest performance yet on Saturday. This is also about the Texas defensive line, which has NFL-caliber talent and must force the OU offense to go off schedule. It’s going to be a long day if Blake Bell feels no pressure.

3. Run Gray all day
Texas is 4-1 when Gray gets more than 15 carries in a game. He needs to be involved early and often. He’s the most reliable cog Texas has on offense, and the Sooners just lost their best linebacker in Corey Nelson. Texas is averaging a stunning 1.6 yards per carry in its last two Red River losses (68 carries, 110 yards).

4. Second down and short
The problem isn’t just three-and-outs. It’s putting Case McCoy in third-and-long situations that handcuff Major Applewhite’s play-calling ability. This season, the Longhorns are getting 6 or more yards on 40 percent of their first-down plays. Against OU last year that number was a little more than 20 percent.

5. Minimize mistakes in space
Dalton Santos and Steve Edmond better be ready. Starting two bulkier middle linebacker-types is risky against this stable Oklahoma backs, and gap responsibility is a must. This goes for the entire defense, though. Greg Robinson says the key is minimizing missed tackles. Texas learned the hard way last year -- Damien Williams’ 95-yard run, Trey Millard’s 164 total yards -- that bad things happen when the first tackle gets missed.

6. Win (or survive) the second quarter
Texas’ offense hasn’t produced a second-quarter touchdown against Oklahoma since … 2008. The Sooners won the second quarter 23-0 last year and 28-7 in 2011, all but ensuring victory by halftime. In those quarters, Texas had a combined five first downs and -17 rushing yards (seriously). Dig a hole that deep once again and the results won’t be any different in 2013.

7. Contain Bell, respect his WRs
Texas’ defensive line needs to be smart when playing Bell or he’ll turn well-covered pass plays into first-down scrambles, just as Sam Richardson did for Iowa State a week ago. The more time Bell can buy with his feet, the more dangerous his collection of fast receivers gets. Texas’ safeties must step up.

8. Swing the momentum
There’s not a better indicator of success for the Longhorns in recent years than when they win the turnover battle. They’ve lost that battle against OU by a combined margin of -6 the past two years. To keep this game close, Texas must to create momentum-changing opportunities and capitalize.

9. The wild cards
Expect Applewhite to play every card in his hand this week. That means a lot more Daje Johnson, who can score any time he touches the ball and is healthy again. Don’t overlook Kendall Sanders, either, considering the attention Johnson, Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley will draw. A defender due for a big game -- perhaps Quandre Diggs or Cedric Reed -- will need to rise to the occasion as well.

10. Play pissed
This is self-explanatory. Embrace the underdog role, take chances and don’t fold when this game gets tough. There’s no question the Sooners have the mental edge in this rivalry right now. The Longhorns will need to do whatever they can to get their groove back.

Do all these things and it will at least be a four-quarter ballgame, which hasn’t been the case the past two years. It’s possible Mack Brown would only have a few of these bullet points on his own version of a top-10 list. But it’s a start.

It’s safe to say the most glaring omission, the No. 11, would be obvious considering how this team has been ravaged by injuries and misfortune through five games. Texas also needs some old fashioned good luck on Saturday.
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10/11/2013 11:24 AM
Here's a thought: What if Texas wins?

What if the Longhorns upset Oklahoma in Saturday's emotionally pitched Red River Shootout? In the leadup this week, it has become not so much a game but perhaps a passion play, a stage for Mack Brown's last game at the Cotton Bowl. Check your favorite provider, the script has already been written.

But what if Mack and the Horns upset Oklahoma? No one seems to have thought -- or planned for -- such a result. Texas/Brown would suddenly be repositioned at 4-2 overall and is 3-0 in the Big 12. A Texas loss Saturday and Mack's eventual departure probably becomes a foregone conclusion, but the machinations of such a move become a little messier with a Longhorns triumph.

And if it's one thing this space enjoys, it's a good story. OU winning is Groundhog Day. Texas winning is ... waaaait a minute. It does make for suits scrambling around in a tizzy after the plan has deviated. Suddenly, Texas would become a player to actually win the Big 12. The Horns get Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home (TCU and Baylor are on the road). A 7-2 conference record isn't out of the question. The odds of winning the league with two losses this year aren't bad.

A Texas victory still might not be enough. In turmoil, coming off last year's F in Tackling 101, the Horns are a two-touchdown underdog. Quarterback David Ash is out again. After some defensive lapses last season, Oklahoma seems to be getting back to its old self.

Most tragic, Saturday could mark the end of the Brown-Stoops rivalry. OU's coach has dominated lately and through the series. But someday there will be books written about this coaching matchup, which is entering its 15th year. Woody and Bo met for only a decade in the Ten-Year War. Only four other FBS coaches remain in their same job they had the day Stoops was hired in 1998, according to The Oklahoman. Brown is one of them.

Coaches just don't last this long anymore. Both of these guys have rejuvenated powerhouse programs that were stuck in the mud in the late 1990s. Brown is the best coach in Texas history behind Darrell Royal. Stoops has won at least a share of eight Big 12 titles and a BCS title. Their 14 previous games have been mostly epic. (Stoops is 9-5 vs. Brown with four of the victories coming by at least 38 points.)

I remember the, uh, smell of the Sooner Schooner still in the air as then-Texas quarterback Major Applewhite gave it back to Oklahoma fans in the stands after winning in 1999. I remember snipers atop buildings surrounding the Cotton Bowl a month after 9/11 in 2001. I remember that never-to-be forgotten strip and score by OU's Roy Williams.

I remember the Texas State Fair -- Elvis carved in butter, turkey legs for breakfast, fried gum.

I remember one of the most ingenious, insulting, home-made signs of all time being paraded around the fairgrounds one year: "It's 12:37 and (OU/Texas, can't remember which) still sucks." The sign was accompanied by an entourage who carried numbers to change the time by the minute.

"Kids that probably can't even spell their name -- four or five years old -- flipping you off," former OU fullback J.D. Runnells remembered in this fantastic recounting of the Red River Rivalry by The Oklahoman.

None of that will go away, but Stoops-Brown might. I'm thinking contrarian this week. How do you get rid of a guy who beats Oklahoma and delivers a BCS bowl? You don't, except that Texas seems ready to move on. DeLoss Dodds is retiring. If a change is to be made, it will have to be made by the new AD. This is supposed to be another one of those epic Stoopsian beatdowns that have become so famous in this series.

Or so it seems.

Something, though, is about to change after Saturday. You can feel it. For once in this series, the game is not the thing. It's the postgame. There's going to be a loser, and if it's Mack, it might be the last time we see him in Dallas on the sidelines in the second week of October.

He doesn't want to go out like that. Or maybe he's just not going out. What if Texas wins?
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