Friday Forum: OU/Texas

I bet our Friday Forum conversation went a lot better than this one did. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This week the fellas and I are gathering around the ole campfire known as Crimson And Cream Machine and talking about the Oklahoma/Texas rivalry. Pull up a stump, roast a marshmallow in the fire and join our discussion after the jump.

(Sorry for the metaphor but the cooler weather makes me want to go camping)

Jon Woods

1) Give us your personal Top 3 moments in the OU/Texas rivalry

- 63-14. It was my freshman year. It was an absolute beat down. Boren cancelled classes on Monday. One of the best weekends of my life.
- Superman. Has to be Roy. That play is one of the top 3 OU plays in history.
- AD going off. I loved watching him running over, around and through defenses. Watching him do it in person against Texas was nothing but pure bliss.

2) Now give us your absolute worst moment in the rivalry

- The Deconstruction of Rhett Bomar. He got KILLED that game.

3) Three things you expect to see in the game this Saturday

- At least one, maybe two special teams touchdowns.
- Ryan Broyles excel. The Horns know that the ball is coming his way. He is just too good for them to stop it.
- Some scrub Texas running back is going to run for 75 total yards or more. Probably Monroe. I just don't have the confidence in our run defense. Of course this one goes out the window if Greg Davis decides to completely give up on the running game by the second drive. Which is probable.

4) Two things you hope you don't see

- The game coming down to a Jimmy Stevens kick. My heart just wouldn't be able to take that.
- Any injuries! For either team for that matter. Let's win or lose with our best players (unlike '08).

5) Big 12 power rankings

1) Nebraska
2) Oklahoma
3) Texas
4) Oklahoma State
5) Missouri
6) Kansas State
7) Texas Tech
8) Texas A&M
9) Colorado
10) Baylor
11) Kansas
12) Iowa State


My Big 12 rankings changed a bit based on the performances of teams that the conference has played. I give Missouri a lot more credit for the close win against SDSU (see above) than I originally did and the value of Tech's performance against Texas has dropped significantly. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will finally give us a much better idea of their talent this Thursday night (what a great week night game). We'll know a lot more about the Buffs on Sunday as well. They are either firmly in the middle of the pack with a win or close loss (I don't care if Georgia is 1-3, with AJ Green back they are still a very dangerous team) or one of the worst two or three in the conference with another poorly executed, non-competitive loss.

 

dishingoutdimes

1 and 2. Top 3 and Worst Moments in the OU/Texas rivalry:

I'm going to lump these two questions together, as they sort of have a common answer for me. Most of my favorite moments will be in the past 5 years or so, because that's what's freshest in my mind, and I don't think it's fair to assess such a storied rivalry based on the past decade. I will leave the "ranking the moments" thing to Sooner fans that are older and wiser than I. That being said, I'll throw out a couple of things.

The truth is that we haven't had a whole lot of good memories in the rivalry lately, at least not directly. We've had to live vicariously through Texas Tech in 2008, and Kansas State and Texas A&M in 2007. I'd be lying if I said that those Longhorns collapses weren't utterly hilarious (they were), but I would rather take care of business at the Cotton Bowl and let that speak for itself. Because of that, I guess my favorite most recent memory was in 2007 when we beat Texas 28-21 in Sam Bradford's sixth collegiate game. I thought that was a big moment for Sam, and helped push him to his great college career.

I also loved the 65-13 destruction of Texas in 2003. It was about as thorough of a beating of a team as you could provide, and Texas was ranked #5 at the time. It's not often that anyone beats a top 5 team by over 50 points, and that was certainly something to savor.

The "worst" moment for me hasn't been one particular moment, but rather this gradual build-up of disappointing losses in the last 6 years. It's hard to pick out one specific moment in that stretch. Consider that we are 1-4 in our last 5 games against Texas, and the last two have been incredibly close, agonizing losses by 10 and 3 points in 2008 and 2009 respectively. I guess if I had to pick one of the four most recent losses that angered me the most, it was the one in 2008, because that was our only blemish on an otherwise perfect regular season en route to the national championship game. That team was good enough to beat Texas, but they just couldn't put it all together.

3. Three things that you expect to see in the game this Saturday

The first thing I expect is lots of turnovers and lots of penalties. When two teams that hate each other, they usually come out flying around without thinking a whole lot. The result is usually some sloppy play. Since 2003, this rivalry game has averaged 4.7 turnovers per game and 16.7 penalties per game, with insignificant differences between OU and Texas in those two categories. There is a very slight edge to Texas in both of those, which isn't unexpected because Texas has had more success lately. Currently, Oklahoma and Texas are tied with a few other teams for 17th worst nationally in penalties per game (8). The important statistic here is that the team that has won the turnover battle in this rivalry has won all but one game since 2003, and the one exception was an even turnover split in 2004 (3 to 3). Thus far this year, OU is tied for 13th best in the country with only 4 turnovers lost, while Texas is tied for 6th worst nationally with 10 turnovers lost. Whichever team wins the turnover battle should win this game. Both teams have had sloppy moments so far this year, but in general OU has taken care of the ball much better than Texas, and several of Landry's interceptions weren't really his fault.

At least a couple of lead changes, and a tight final score. The last three Red River Rivalry matchups have had an average point differential of only 6.7 points, and I expect that this game will be similarly close - probably not being decided until the 4th quarter. In this regard, I think that tends to favor Texas. OU has been outscored 41-10 in the 4th quarter this season, while Texas has won the 4th quarter 23-14. We've covered OU's late game collapses a lot this season, and this is really the one game that they can't afford one. While I think that they'll improve on this a bit, it's hard to reverse well entrenched trends.

Special teams will decide the game. This could prove interesting, as both teams have had struggles on special teams this year. I think the biggest special teams problem for OU will be in the placekicking game, without a reliable kicker. However, OU's coverage units have performed better than Texas this year so far. In terms of kickoff return yards allowed, OU is ranked 14th best, and Texas is 71st. It's a similar story on punt coverage, with OU ranked 25th, and Texas ranked 103rd (although they've only had one returned punt). Oklahoma is 17th in net punting, and Texas is 60th. And finally, Oklahoma is 31st in kick return yards, and Texas is 83rd. Overall, OU has been winning the special teams field position game, on average, a lot more than Texas has this year. However, Justin Tucker has gone 7 for 9 on field goals for Texas this year, while we know very well that Jimmy Stevens and Patrick O'Hara are not exactly reliable kickers.

Overall, I think this is going to come down to who wins the turnover battle, whether or not OU can score in the red zone or has to settle for field goals, and the field position game. If OU can win all three of those battles, I think they win. Otherwise, I have my doubts.

4. Two things you hope you don't see

Ah, this is easy! First, I hope I don't see our defense allow more than 2 plays that go for 25 yards or more. Make this Texas offense that has struggled this year drive the field by chipping away at you and not making mistakes. Don't let them get confidence by completing a 40 yard pass. The "bend-but-don't-break" philosophy is fine with me. Second, I hope that I don't see more than 3 screen passes or dump down passes well short of the yardage to gain on 3rd downs. So far this year, OU has had about 17 third downs per game, so I'm basically saying that I hope I don't see these dink-dunk passes on more than 17% of our 3rd down tries.

Third down has been a bellwether for OU's level of success this season. In our one blowout win, against Florida State, we were 10-17 (59%) on 3rd down. However, in the other three close victories, OU was 20-50 (40%) on 3rd down. The defense, with the exception of the Air Force game, has been hovering around 30-40% for the 3rd down conversions allowed. The big difference in this game will be to get into manageable 3rd down situations. The Sooners need to minimize negative plays on 1st and 2nd down, and the playcalling needs to be better than it was against Cincinnati.

5. Big 12 Power Rankings

Man, I'm really going to have to shake things up here with some interesting performances last week. Note that I wrote this before the Texas A&M and Oklahoma State game, so the result of that game is not factored in here.

1. Nebraska (4-0): they only beat South Dakota State by 14 at home, but they've looked better in their other games than OU has. They get the #1 ranking over OU for that reason.
2. Oklahoma (4-0): OU isn't playing like a conference winner, so I have a hard time putting them at the top.
3. Missouri (4-0): destroyed Miami (OH), something that Florida had trouble doing.
4. Oklahoma State (3-0): still undefeated, and their offense has been pretty good this year. Their defense has looked shaky, and their capability will determine how good this team will be.
5. Texas A&M (3-0): can they climb back into relevancy? I'm not sold yet.
6. Texas (3-1): a blowout loss at home drops Texas from #1 to #6 on my list, but this is a "power ranking" and I still think Texas is better than a lot of the teams in the Big 12.
7. Kansas State (4-0): it hasn't been pretty, but they're 4-0.
8. Baylor (3-1): I don't know why, but I like this Baylor team. I think they go bowling this year.
9. Texas Tech (2-1): they're sitting on 2 wins, but that was a close win against SMU, and a win against New Mexico, one of the worst D1 teams.
10. Colorado (2-1): I honestly have no idea what to think. 2 wins by an average of 19.5 points, and a loss of 45 points.
11. Iowa State (2-2): not bad so far, but they have a brutal 3 game stretch coming up with a home game against Utah followed by road games at OU and Texas. Yikes!
12. Kansas (2-2): losses to SMU and North Dakota State make it impossible to rank them higher than Iowa State.

jtesooner

1) Give us your personal Top 3 moments in the OU/Texas rivalry

*Disclaimer - This only gets the top spot over #2 because I was in attendance*
#1 - DeMarco Murray's hurdle and run for the TD. I was fortunate enough to have the best tickets I've ever had for the RRSO that fine day. I was in the student section in the corner of the stadium he finished that run in, so it was as if he was running directly toward us. I could see the play developing, but thought once he left his feet that he wasn't going to break it all the way. Boy was I ever wrong! What transpired was one of the most memorable RRSO TD runs in the illustrious history of the great rivalry.

#2 - "Superman" Do you really need more than that?

#3 - Admittedly this is a bit of a cop out on my part, but 2000 thru 2004 just gave us so many good times! 63-14, 14-3, 35-24, 65-13, and 12-0, man that felt so good to type! Obviously you've got to love 65-13, but 12-0 is right up there for me as well. Anytime you can shutout your opponent it's a clear indication that you dominated them and that's exactly what OU did that day. Plus AD rolling up 225 in his first RRSO was pretty dang awesome!

2) Now give us your absolute worst moment in the rivalry

1984, 15-15. I was only seven at the time, but it's the first (of what would become many) time I can remember UT getting the benefit of the doubt by the "unbiased" officials in this so called neutral site game. Everyone remembers the Keith Strawberry non INT in the end zone, but there were also two very questionable calls even before that. A pass interference and an offside call had The King up in arms even before he would watch the refs absolutely steal OU's victory.

You can call it paranoia if you want, but so long as this game is played within the state of Texas it will never truly be a "neutral site game." Not in my opinion anyway and based on past years (and what I'm absolutely sure will prove to be this year yet again), the officials assigned to the game every year clearly do everything they can to reinforce that fact.

3) Three things you expect hope to see in the game this Saturday

I'm taking some liberty with CC's question and rewording it a little bit. So I hope to see:
1) Kevin Wilson has designed an offensive game plan that requires something more than a fifth grade education to figure out. Do something with the running game other than running up the backside of the center and two guards. Get freaking creative for once in your life!!! I'm holding out hope that the first half of the Cincinnati game was a precursor to what we will see on Saturday. More importantly, if we get any kind of a lead we put our foot on throat and crush their freaking larynx. No letting our foot off the gas, we go for the kill and take no prisoners.
2) I REALLY hope to see an amped up defensive game plan designed to bring pressure from any and everywhere against a UT offense in utter shambles. Rattle Gilly early and often and this game will be ours for the taking. If Venables comes out passive and allows this team to get any kind of confidence, let alone a lead, OU could be in trouble. UT resembles one of those guys from Mike Tyson's Punch Out just wobbling there, out on their feet, begging for you to step up and uppercut their head into the tenth row. So time for Brent and his D to sack up and deliver the "Finish Him" death blow Mortal Kombat style!
3) As much as I anticipate special teams playing an important role in this game, I hope to see Ryan Broyles finally get an actual chance to return a punt. I could absolutely see him breaking one in this game, which could very easily wind up being the difference. I'd love to see DeMarco get a big kickoff return (even though I don't like him being back there to begin with) or even a Cam Kenney completely redeem himself with a big return as well. There certainly isn't anyone other than Kenney who could use that kind of confident boost and this game does have a tendency to make lesser know guys into household names so look out.

4) Two things you hope you don't see.

1) I hope I don't see Bad Landry. If he's got the happy feet or if he's throwing INTs we are in deep doo doo. Even with the improvement along the o-line, Texas is still going to get pressure at times. Hopefully Kevin Wilson is smart enough (lord help us) to realize that fact and have some designed rollouts, bootlegs, or misdirection plays drawn up to help slow down that Texas front four a little bit. We don't necessarily need Good Landry to show up (although I certainly wouldn't be upset if he did), but we will not win this game if we get Bad Landry.
2) I hope I don't see Texas get an early lead. Let me clarify that by saying if they go up by 3-0 I won't be worried. However, if they get an early TD on us I'm going to be very worried. Especially if it's the kind on a busted coverage play and Gilly is actually able to throw the ball vertically instead of horizontally. As I mentioned above, we cannot allow them to get any kind of confidence early on offense.


5) Big 12 power rankings

1. Oklahoma - 4-0 and while we struggled, our win was on the road plus it wasn't against a D-II school
2. Nebraska - 4-0 struggled at home and Martinez looked human for the first time all year
3. Kansas State - 4-0 off this week, but HUGE showdown looming next Thursday against NU
4. Missouri - 4-0 off this week, but finally looking forward to having a non pay-per-view game
5. Oklahoma State - 3-0 big game against aTm Thursday. Despite all efforts, pending the result of that game I might have to move them much higher next week than I'm comfortable with.
5. Texas A&M - 3-0 see above other than the "not comfortable part"
7. Baylor - 3-1 good chance for them to get an early conference win this week against KU
8. Texas - 3-1 so UT fan, can we say that your whorns are "struggling" yet?
9. Iowa State - 2-2 any shutout ISU can get they'll take
10. Texas Tech - 2-1 looking to rebound on offense after a dismal performance against UT
11. Colorado - 2-1 Coaches on the Hot Seat Bowl this week in Boulder!
12. Kansas - 2-2 now that conference play is starting the Jayhawks better get used to the cellar

CC Machine

1) Give us your personal Top 3 moments in the OU/Texas rivalry

1 - The 63-14 game. After suffering through the John Blake and Howard Schnellenberger years and the then Bob Stoops' loss in his first Red River Shootout, this game was beyond bliss.

2 - Roy Williams

3 - Adrian Peterson as a freshman in 2004 was something special

 

2) Now give us your absolute worst moment in the rivalry

In 1998 Oklahoma entered the Texas game with a 2-2 record and had been competitive in their two losses. What happened in the Cotton Bowl that day was a 34-3 thumping at the hands of the Longhorns. That was my second year to attend the game in person and even though the Sooners had also lost the year before (my first game in attendance) it was a far cry from the three point loss in `97. Up until that point I had been very reluctant to criticize John Blake.

3) Three things you expect to see in the game this Saturday

1 - Turnovers, Oklahoma will be good for a couple but I think Texas will have more.

2 - Big hits. Texas has Blake Gideon but the Sooners have The Hammer

3 - Victory!

4) Two things you hope you don't see

1 - Longhorns running free behind the defense. This would mean another collapse by the Sooner defense and a sign that the problems are not correctable.

2 - The game coming down to a field goal.

5) Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Nebraska

2. Oklahoma

3. Oklahoma State

4. Kansas State

5. Missouri

6. Texas

7. Texas Tech

8. Texas A&M

9. Baylor

10. Iowa Sate

11. Colorado

12. Kansas

 

 

 

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