It doesn't get any bigger than this. It's the game fans mark first on their calender, it's the game fans plan their schedule around, it's the game responsible for a year of non-stop bragging or hiding from rival fans; it's the Red River Shootout. It's the longest played rivalry that takes place on neutral ground, this game goes all the way back to 1900 when Oklahoma was still just a territory. It's a game that's so big that it even means more to most Texas and OU fans than their games against in-state rivals. The impact of this game extends beyond the local level though and reaches into the national college football scene. Six of the last ten National Championship games has featured either Texas or Oklahoma (the winner in every year but 2008). There are a lot of great rivalries in college football, that's a huge part of what makes the sport so great, but how many other rivalries mean just as much nationally as they do locally? Michigan/Ohio State, Auburn/Alabama, USC/Notre Dame are all great, but for me nothing tops the Saturday in October when two powerhouses collide at the Cotton Bowl..
This year marks the 106th game in the history of the rivalry with Texas holding a 59–41–5 edge; 33-30-3 since World War II (Modern Football era). The margin in the series can change and swing quickly though with the series filled with win streaks by both teams. Currently Texas has won 4 of the last 6, but before that OU won 5 in a row. This isn't a new trend either, look at some of the win streaks in this rivalries history.
Texas has streaks of 3 or more in the years 1929-1932, 1940-1947, 1958-1965, 1967-1970, 1979-1981, 1989-1992, and 1997-1999.
Oklahoma has similar streaks in the years 1910-1912, 1948-1950, 1952-1957, 1971-1975, 1985-1988, and 2000-2004.
But who will win this year, that's what we care most about right now. Here's how each team can win.
OU Wins If...
Landry Jones avoids turnovers - Jones didn't throw any picks last year, but fumbled late in the 4th quarter on a scramble, and that would have given Texas the ball with a chance to take the lead if DeMarco Murray hadn't recovered. In the 2009 game he threw 2 picks; OU is more talented, but turnovers can level the playing field.
Overwhelm Texas' young O-line & hit McCoy/Ash - The Longhorns are starting a freshman at center, sophomores at right guard/right tackle, and are obviously very young at quarterback. Stoops has always done a good job at disguising blitzes and getting pressure on the QB; if the Sooners are able to do that consistently, then they'll likely throw the Texas offense off their rhythm and cause turnovers.
Texas Wins If...
The Blitz Gets To Landry Jones - The Longhorns have to hit Jones and cause some turnovers and I don't believe they can get a consistent pass rush with just their front 4. So far Manny Diaz has shown a good ability to bring exotic blitzes and hit the QB all game long with their outstanding line-backing crew; he'll have to do even better this week. When you're the underdog, the easiest way to win the game is to control the clock and force turnovers; if they don't win the turnover battle, they have no chance.
Pound The Rock - With young QB's, it goes without saying that Texas needs to take as much pressure off them as possible. Fortunately for the first time in several years, the Longhorns have the capability to do so. Freshman running back Malcolm Brown is legit, he's got size, he's got speed, and he's got the ability to make defenders miss, which had been missing from the Longhorn backfield. Fozzy Whittaker has also been a nice surprise, he's lost some weight and seems much quicker and healthier. Basically, he finally, in his senior year, seems like the running back they recruited years ago. As a team Texas is rushing for 206 yards per game, OU has a good defense but I think Texas can run on them if they commit to it. The Sooners have given up 130 rushing yards per game, a number that doesn't seem that bad. However, OU hasn't faced a team yet with a great running game and every team they've faced so far has been down double digits at the half; in other words, they had to start passing and abandon the run. If the Texas run game can chew the clock a little bit and keep the offense out of 3rd and long, then McCoy/Ash should be able to make just enough plays (some of them trick plays probably) to pull off the upset.
I believe this will be a low-scoring game that's controlled by the defenses. With Christian Scott's injury, the Longhorns are thin in the secondary, but with the way Texas blitzes, it'll be interesting to see how often the Sooners spread out into 4 or 5 wide. If Texas can get to Jones, they'll keep it close. I believe they will keep it close, but Oklahoma is the better team.