Texas (1-4) vs. Oklahoma (4-0) 3:30 pm
Texas is 1-4 the last 5 games against Oklahoma with an average margin of defeat of 23.2 points per game including last season’s 31-26 loss to the Sooners.
The Longhorns have struggled with offensive consistency all season long and will need their best effort this coming weekend to pull off the upset. Texas is averaging 24. 6 points per game and is led by quarterback Jerrod Heard, who is completing 55% of his passes for 661 yards with two touchdowns with two interceptions. Heard is a mobile quarterback (318 rushing yards and 3 TD’s), who has shown glimpses of greatness in avoiding pressure this year and improvising in order to make big plays. Texas has been a run first team that is averaging 171 rushing yards per game and has struggled stretching teams vertically-passing for 167 yards per game. The Longhorns cannot get into a shootout with the Sooners if they are to win this game. Running back Johnathan Gray will need a big day so the Longhorns can control the tempo and methodically work down the field to keep the Sooners offense on the sidelines. Gray has 204 rushing yards on the year with 3 touchdowns and will need to contribute in the short to intermediate passing game to keep the Sooners defense off balance. Texas has a raw group of receivers led by John Burt, who leads the team with 222 receiving yards with one touchdown. Burt has the speed to take the top off of the defense, but is not a polished route runner at this point in his early career. Fellow wideouts Daje Johnson (14 rec. 201 yds.) and Armanti Foreman (10 rec. 142 yds. 1 TD) will need to find holes in the secondary to give Heard options in the passing game and keep the pressure off of a suspect offensive line. Texas is allowing 17 sacks as a unit and will need the running game to have early success to keep the Sooners defense guessing. If Texas cannot run the football effectively on Saturday, this will force them to pass and make the offense one dimensional.
The most glaring weaknesses for the Longhorns this year has come on the defensive side of the ball. The team is allowing 38.2 points per game and has been ripped on the ground along with through the air by opposing teams. Texas is allowing 210 rushing yards per game and has yielded 296 passing yards per game through the team’s first five games. If there is a optimism inn Austin entering this game, it will have to be that the Longhorns have been able to create turnovers this season. The team is +5 in turnover margin and will need to be able to force turnovers to give their offense field position on Saturday. The unit has struggled to get a pass rush and has 7 sacks through five games as compared to last season’s 40 sack total. Texas must be aggressive on Saturday and utilize blitz packages on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Texas has not been able to get three and outs on opposing offenses and is allowing opponents to convert 53% on third downs which ranks 122 of 127 FBS teams. Linebacker Peter Jinkens is having a solid season leading the team with 40 total tackles.
The Sooners have been hitting on all cylinders as they enter this game against Texas. Oklahoma is averaging 42 points per game and has been doing it through the air with quarterback Baker Mayfield. On the season, Mayfield has completed 65.2% of his passes for 1,382 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Sooners have averaged 358 passing yards per game and are averaging 163 yards per game on the ground. The difference between the Sooners output this year and last season is that Mayfield has shown big play ability along with other receivers being able to step up outside of Sterling Shepard. Last year, Shepard accounted for a majority of the passing offense production and when he went down with an injury the team could not produce in the passing game. This year, wide receivers Dede Westbrook and Durron Neal have combined 31 receptions for 542 yards with two touchdowns and have complimented Shepard’s 20 receptions and 321 yards with 3 touchdowns. Oklahoma will look to start fast in this game and put the pressure on a young Longhorns offense. If Oklahoma can jump out early they can force Texas out of their offensive game plan and wear down the Longhorns defense. Oklahoma’s running game has been effective with running back Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine splitting carries. Mixon is a dual threat that has 11 receptions on the season for 176 yards with 2 touchdowns. Perine is averaging 4.5 yards per carry with 2 touchdowns and is a tough between the tackles running back that can wear down defenses.
The Sooners are giving 22.3 points per game and are yielding 159 rushing yards per game. Oklahoma is allowing 203 passing yards per game and has done an excellent job at getting a pass rush this year. The unit has 12 sacks through four games-including 7 in last week’s dominant win over West Virginia. The unit won the turnover battle last week as well and finally showed signs of stepping up the intensity in big ball games. Oklahoma is -1 in turnover margin on the year and seems to be coming on after last week’s home victory in which the team won the turnover battle 5 to 2 over the Mountaineers. Linebacker Eric Striker leads the team with 2.5 sacks and teammate Devonte Bond is second on the team with 2 sacks.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor at www.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: