For the 110th time, Oklahoma and Texas will take the field together in the Red River Shootout Rivalry. This rivalry game is usually a chance for both teams to posture on the national stage, but this year it is marred by a Texas team in full disarray. They have a chance to be the worst Longhorn team since the 4-7 1997 team led by John Mackovic, who was replaced by Mack Brown the following season. Their 1-4 start is the worst since 1956. Despite their abysmal start, and even with players tweeting about transferring at halftime, Charlie Strong reportedly still has some “breathing room.” Could an ugly loss be the end of Strong’s tenure in Austin?
Texas melted down (again) last week, with the TCU Horned Frogs all over them from the starting gun. A late touchdown prevented the TCU shutout, making the final score 50-7. “[The TCU loss] is on me. It’s all about doing a better job in preparation and focus,” Strong said. Texas struggled equally on offense and defense.
Through five games, dual-threat quarterback Jerrod Heard has thrown two touchdowns, rushed for three, and thrown two interceptions. So far, he’s tallied 661 yards passing and 318 rushing yards (good enough to be their leading rusher). D’Onta Foreman and Johnathan Gray are the lead backs, combining for 415 yards and five touchdowns. So far, the standout receivers have been John Burt, Daje Johnson, and Armanti Foreman, combining for 565 yards and two touchdowns.
The Longhorns’ defense is predictably bad. They rank 90th in the FBS in total yards, giving up almost 1700 yards through five games. They allow an average of 24.6 points a game. Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs put up 50 points on the Longhorns last week, so expect Mayfield, Perine, Mixon and company to put up huge yardage on Saturday. Look for Hassan Ridgeway on the defensive line as an impact player.
The Sooners have allowed three different running backs to notch 100 yard games against them this season. If emergent force D’Onta Foreman can break out against the Sooners, it might be closer than the experts think. Even though anything is possible in such a heated rivalry, Texas hasn’t given fans any reason for optimism this year. We’ll find out Saturday, but a Sooner victory seems more clear-cut than it ever has been going into this week.