Conference: Big XII
Season Record: 2-3
Last Week's Opponent: Baylor (L 28-7)
Points Scored Per Game: 18.4 (Ranks 116th Nationally)
Points Allowed Per Game: 19.2 (Ranks 21st Nationally)
Last Meeting With Sooners: October 5, 2013 (W36- 20)
The Charlie Strong Era hasn't gotten off to the best of starts but lingering concussion symptoms forcing the retirement of quarterback David Ash, discipline issues resulting in dismissals and suspensions, and a brutal schedule have been the culprits and not necessarily the X's & O's of Charlie Strong. Regardless, Texas comes limping into Dallas having lost three of their first five games this year. Texas knows that a rivalry win over the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl would go a long way towards building momentum for the second half of the season.
The combination of the loss of Ash and suspensions along the offensive line have taken their toll on the Longhorns' offense more than anything else. Texas has struggled equally to both run and pass the football this season. They rank ninth in the conference in both categories with Kansas (passing) and Iowa State (rushing) being the two teams ranked behind them.
Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is completing 59.4% of his passes and has thrown for 734 yards with five touchdowns to three interceptions. His top two receivers this season have been John Harris and Jaxon Shipley, with Harris being just one of two Texas players to record a receiving touchdown (4) this season.
Running backs Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown have been the workhorses on the ground and despite the challenges they've been respectable. Gray is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and Brown 3.8. The two have scored three combined with Brown having two of them. The Longhorns are averaging 36 rushing attempts per game for an average of 134.4 yards (97th nationally).
Upfront Texas has done a decent job at opening holes for the running game and that's where the Longhorns find their best chance for success. In the passing game they are close to even by attempting 33 passes per game and completing 19 of them for 184.4 yards (104th nationally). They've also allowed ten quarterback sacks in five games which is clearly a hindrance to the offense.
At 19.2 points allowed per game the Longhorns are third in the Big Twelve behind Baylor (12.4) and TCU (13.5). Senior linebacker Jordan Hicks leads the Texas defense with 69 total tackles and is tied with a team-high two interceptions. Junior defensive tackle Malcolm Brown (No, not the running back) leads the way in sacks, with 3.5, but a total of twelve defenders have contributed on twenty sacks.
Opposing quarterbacks are completing 50.8% of their passes against a strong secondary. The Longhorns have only given up four passing touchdowns through the air but have snagged nine interceptions. It's on the ground where opponents are having the most success (PLEASE SEE THIS PART, JOSH HEUPEL). Texas is eighth in the conference in total rushing yards allowed where opponents are running an average of 52 times per game (second highest in the conference with Texas Tech getting run on 53 times a game) for an average of 199 yards per game (third most in the conference).
Texas will most likely follow the blueprint laid down by TCU and try and make Trevor Knight beat them by focusing to stop the run. Ironically Oklahoma will most likely follow the same game plan which means this game could result in a classic slugfest.