OU vs. Texas: Where Do the Advantages Lie?


Throughout the years – 109 of them, to be precise – the OU vs. Texas battles on the gridiron have been closely contested. That has not been the case, however, in the 16 Red River Showdowns that Sooner head coach Bob Stoops has been a part of.

Only four times in those 16 previous border war battles in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas has the victory margin been fewer than 10 points, and on four occasions, the winning margin was 38 points or greater. The Sooners have been on the winning end of all four of those blowouts.

What does that have to do with this year’s Red River game? Not a whole lot, except to say that many in the business of writing and talking about college football are forecasting that Saturday’s 110th meeting between these two longtime bluebloods of the college game could be another lopsided contest with the team in burnt orange jerseys once again drawing the short straw against a Bob Stoops-coached Sooner team.

Oct 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns receiver Marcus Johnson (7) runs a reverse against Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Julian Wilson (2) during the Red River showdown at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t really get any better when you break down the basic matchups that will ultimately determine the game’s outcome.

When Oklahoma Runs the Ball

The Sooners, behind the bruising running of Samaje Perine, led the Big 12 in rushing last season. The OU running game has been a little slow getting started this year, largely because of the fact that the Sooners are looking to pass more in their new Air Raid attack. Texas, however, has not been good against the run game this season. Only Kansas and Texas Tech have yielded fewer rushing yards this season. Look for OU to attack this perceived Longhorn weakness with a heavy dose of Perine and Joe Mixon. Advantage Oklahoma

When Oklahoma Throws the Ball

Oct 3, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks to pass against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Baker Mayfield is averaging 358 passing yards per game and he is going up against the second-worst pass defense in the Big 12. Twelve different receivers have caught passes for the Sooners so far this season, which will add further stress on the Longhorn linebackers and secondary. Sterling Shepard, Dede Westbrook and Durron Neal are the Sooners leading receivers, although Michiah Quick had a very good day seeing his first real action last week against West Virginia, and tight end Mark Andrews has come up big in three of the four OU wins in 2015. Texas does have five interceptions in its five games. If the Sooners have success running the football, which will probably be an important part of the OU offensive game plan, the Longhorn defense will be hard pressed to slow down Mayfield and a talented group of Sooner receivers.

When Texas Runs the Ball

Texas is actually averaging more rushing yards per game than the Sooners. The problem is the leading rusher for the Longhorns is freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard, who is averaging over 60 yards per game on the ground. Containing the dual-threat Heard should be a bigger issue for the OU front seven than containing running backs D’Onta Foreman and/or Jonathan Gray. West Virginia was able to get almost 200 yards on the ground against the Sooners last weekend, and Texas gained close to 200 last week against TCU. Oklahoma will concentrate on shutting down the Texas run game and try to force the Longhorns quarterback(s) to beat the Sooners by throwing the football. Slight Advantage Oklahoma

When Texas Throws the Football

Sep 19, 2015; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Jerrod Heard (13) carries the ball against the California Golden Bears during the second quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Jerrod Heard appears to be a better passing quarterback than Tyrone Swoopes, although Heard completed only 8 of 20 passes for 48 yards last week at TCU. And Swoopes wasn’t much better, completing 5 of 8 for 74 yards. Through five games, Texas is averaging just 167 passing yards a game, dead last in the Big 12. The Sooners will bring blitz packages and put pressure on the mobile Texas QBs, much like what they did last week against West Virginia, when OU picked off three passes. But the OU defense will also have to be mindful of the ability of both Heard and Swoopes to run with the ball. Advantage Oklahoma

Special Teams

Oklahoma freshman kicker Austin Seibert, who does both the field-goal kicking and the punting for the Sooners, is having an excellent season so far. He is a perfect 7 of 7 in field-goal tries and 21 out of 21 in extra-point attempts. He is fourth in the Big 12 in punting with a 45.2 average. Texas field-goal kicker Nick Rose is 4 of 7 this season, with a long of 46 yards. Longhorn punter Michael Dickson is averaging 40.3 yards per kick. The Longhorns’ Daje Johnson is a real threat returning kickoffs and punts. He lead the country in punt returns, averaging over 20 yards per return. Advantage Even


Bob Stoops has coached in 16 Red River Showdowns and come away with the win 10 times. The Sooners have four new assistant coaches this season, but defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and inside receivers coach Cale Gundy have been on the staff and in this game for 8 and 16 years, respectively.  This is just Texas head coach Charlie Strong’s second time coaching the Longhorns is this historic rivalry. No one on Strong’s coaching staff has been in his position more than two seasons. Calling offensive plays for the Longhorns is former OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. Advantage Oklahoma

Fans in the Stands

One of the indelible images from this annual rivalry game, one of the oldest and best in college football, is the 50/50 divide of the stadium seating. Half of the stadium (more than 45,000 fans), from the 50-yard line on the east side of the Cotton bowl, wrapping around the north end to the 50-yard line on the west side, is decked out in burnt orange apparel (the school colors of Texas), and the other half is saturated in Sooner crimson. Oklahoma, like Texas, distributes a large percentage of its ticket allotment for the annual rivalry game with Oklahoma to season ticket holders. However, it is being reported by at least one news source, the Oklahoma City Oklahoman, that there were as many as 8,000 unsold OU-Texas tickets this year because almost 10,000 Texas season ticket holders did not renew their ticket subscription for the current season (increased ticket prices by ousted Texas athletic director Steve Patterson being cited as a primary reason). If that is the case, the so-called “Great Divide” might be more heavily apportioned toward crimson this time around.