The game of the weekend, and quite possibly the game of the season (sorry USC & Ohio St. fans, this one is bigger), is Oklahoma vs. Texas.
Played in the shadows of the Texas State Fair in Dallas, the Cotton Bowl split right down the middle with one side Crimson and the other side Burnt Orange. It is the most unique and, in my opinion, best rivalry in all of College Football.
Texas leads the all-time series 57-40-5 but since Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma, the Sooners are 6-3 and have given the Longhorns two of their worst defeats in school history 63–14 (2000) and 65–13 (2003). This years game will also be the first time since Stoops or Mack Brown took over that either team will be ranked number 1 going into the game.
Full disclosure here, I am an Oklahoma student and diehard fan so I will try and be as unbiased as I can possibly be, but here are five reasons that the Oklahoma Sooners will win the Red River Shootout and continue to show they are the best team in College Football:
- Sam Bradford - the Sooners signal caller is following up his record breaking freshman season with an even better sophomore season. He has completed 73% of his passes for 1665 yards and 18 touchdowns. Bradford has also spread the ball around, with 16 different players catching a pass this season.
- Oklahoma's Offense - Oklahoma is averaging 540 ypg and 50 points per game. Juaquin Iglesias and Manny Johnson have been basically alternating which one would have the bigger game each game this season. With other weapons like Ryan Broyles, Jermaine Gresham, DeMarco Murray, and Chris Brown, Oklahoma just has better skill position players than you do defenders to cover them. If you focus on Iglesias and Johnson, Broyles and Gresham will tear you apart. If you load the box like TCU, they go deep, if you play them loose and try not to let anyone behind you, they go short and Gresham and Murray tear you up. You can't pick your poison against the Sooners because they are one of the, if not the most balanced offense in the nation.
- Texas's Pass Defense - Now you might be thinking "Oklahoma hasn't played a pass defense like Texas's", well you would be right, they have actually played against better pass defenses. Texas ranks 96th in the nation for pass yards given up per game at 244 ypg. Cincinnatii ranks 95th and Bradford threw for 395 yards against them. If Bradford is allowed to sit back in the pocket, he will pick apart the porus Texas pass defense.
- Oklahoma's Front Seven - Coming into this season, Linebacker was suppose to be a weak spot while the Defensive Line was the strength of the defense. Over the first five games, the Linebackers have gone from liability to strength. Ryan Reynolds, Keenan Clayton, and Travis Lewis have been tackling machines this season. The defensive line, which might be the best in the country, will be back to 100% with DeMarcus Granger returning to action. With Granger in the lineup, the Sooners have completely shut the run down and have gotten in the face of each and every quarterback this season. By putting such tremendous pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers have excelled. To beat Texas this front seven will need to hit Colt McCoy, Texas's leading rusher and Quarterback, early and often.
- The Coaching Matchup - For all the flax Bob Stoops gets for losing bowl games, there is one thing he knows how to do just as good as winning Big 12 titles and that is beating Texas. Coach Stoops has a 6-3 record versus the Longhorns while out scoring the Longhorns 267-186 in those nine meetings (217-113 in the wins). Mack Brown is a tremendous recruiter but when it comes to games against Oklahoma, he still has that mental block against them without Vince Young (yes I know Colt McCoy beat them in 2006). This has and will be a big advantage for the Sooners as long as Bob Stoops and Mack Brown are on the opposing sidelines.
This should be a game for the ages but in the end, the Sooners have too much offense and enough defense to where I just can't see them losing this game (I think they will win every game but that is besides the point). The spread as of Tuesday morning sits at 6.5 in favor of Oklahoma, I see Oklahoma not only covering that spread but doubling it at the least.
My official prediction is Oklahoma 38 Texas 18.