The Red River Rivalry (or Shootout if you still prefer that) between Texas and Oklahoma is typically one of the most watched and fierce rivalry games year in and out. Typically this game has decided who would go on to win the Big 12 and both teams usually are ranked, but this year that is not the case.
Both teams will enter the Cotton Bowl with records of 2-2 as both have gotten off to rough starts to the 2016 season. The Longhorns have dropped games in back to back weeks against Cal and Oklahoma State, while the Sooners opened up the season with a loss against Houston and then dropped another at home when Ohio State came to Norman. Needless to say, both teams need this win on Saturday for a variety of reasons.
Both teams have struggled mightily on defense so far this year, particularly on the back end in the secondary. With both offenses showing that they are capable of putting up crooked numbers, there could be a lot of points on the scoreboard by the time this one wraps up in Dallas on Saturday. Going into this one, Oklahoma holds the advantage at the quarterback position with Baker Mayfield leading the way both statistically and in the experience category.
While Texas quarterback Shane Buechele has played well so far this year, this will be his first time facing the Sooners in the RRR and he has been hampered a bit with an injury that could play a factor with how Texas operates on offense. The Sooners will also hold the advantage at running back as they will trot out their dynamic duo of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine while Texas will be without sophomore running back Chris Warren III; junior running back D’Onta Foreman will shoulder most of the load, but it should be noted that he suffered an injury last week, so he will more than likely be less than 100%.
One position group where I think the Longhorns will hold the advantage on Saturday is along the offensive line. This group has paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the conference so far this year and along with getting senior guard Kent Perkins back from a one game suspension, the Sooners will be without junior defensive tackle Charles Walker due to a concussion he sustained against TCU. Aside from being able to run the ball against every opponent they have faced, the Texas offensive line has done a pretty good job of protecting their freshman quarterback this year, so this will be a matchup to watch throughout the game.
This game provides many interesting storylines for it only being early October. A loss for either the Sooners or the Longhorns will be the third of the year with a good chunk of the schedule remaining. With the chance that things could go further south, it could begin to raise even more questions about the job security for either staff. While Bob Stoops more than likely has more leash than Charlie Strong, the natives have grown restless with him in previous years, so it will be interesting to see what the vibe is in Norman if the Longhorns come out on top.
As for Strong, last week was about as awkward of any week of his tenure in Austin following the loss in Stillwater, as reports immediately began to swirl about his job security and debated on whether he could be fired in the middle of the season if the team continues to struggle. If Strong wants to have any chance at retaining his job as the head coach in Austin, it is obvious he will need to right the ship on Saturday to even begin to convince his doubters he is still the right man for the job.
This matchup with tee it up at its usual 11 a.m. spot on Saturday, but this year make sure you tune into FS1 to check out the Red River Rivalry between the Longhorns and the Sooners.
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