Happy historic game day, Sooner Nation! In a matter of hours, the Oklahoma Sooners will meet the Texas Longhorns in an epic rematch of their annual showdown — this time for the Big 12 Championship. This marks the first time the two storied rivals have met more than once in a season since 1903. With a conference crown (and in Oklahoma’s case much more) on the line, these two blue blood titans are likely to treat college football fans across the country to yet another classic to kick off Championship Saturday in America.
Head on down to the comments section for the game thread, where we’ll be asking questions, making predictions and discussing the day’s action with y’all.
TV: ABC 11:00 a.m. CT
Live Stream: WatchESPN
TV Commentary: Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
In case you missed it, here’s episode 10 of Oklahoma Breakdown with Burnt Orange Nation’s Wescott Eberts. (Fair warning: As usual, this week’s podcast has some NSFW language.)
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the sheer lunacy that this matchup brings. It breaks the natural order of college football on so many levels. I mean, OU only plays Texas once a year, whether in the Big 8 or Big 12 South, or when the conference has 10 teams but still claims 12. Once a year for bragging rights or more at the Cotton Bowl in one of the most anticipated weekends of every year for every OU and Texas fan. A rematch just makes my head explode.
While a second in-season meeting between these conference giants may seem absurd, albeit exciting, to many Sooner fans, this particular matchup — possibly the first of many to come in the conference’s current format — is OU’s sweet chance at revenge. And it couldn’t come at a better time. With a win, the Sooners are almost all but guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff, in what would be their third appearance in the last four seasons.
Texas comes in to play Oklahoma’s spoiler, as they typically have through most of the annual Cotton Bowl versions of the Red River Rivalry through the last decade. The Longhorns, if victorious in this championship rematch, would eliminate the Big 12 from playoff contention and earn themselves a spot in the Sugar Bowl, which would mark their first major bowl appearance since 2009.
Nope. Not happening. Y’all really pissed off OU with that upset back in October. And I have a feeling a pissed off Kyler Murray, along with his calculating, cerebral head coach and playcaller Lincoln Riley, will be devastating for any opponent — especially cocky archrivals Texas.
It feels good that Trey Sermon and T.J. Pledger are only getting healthier (however many snaps that entails for either), and that Kennedy Brooks, while carrying the load, has emerged as a stud who looks like an all-conference performer in his own right. It feels really good that Marquise “Hollywood” Brown looks to be back to full strength. After 243 yards on the road with his cousin AB cheering him on in Morgantown, the K1-to-Hollywood combo appears to be back and fully stocked for the Red River Rematch. Don’t forget about CeeDee Lamb, who may feel he has something to prove following his all-conference team snub.
Haven’t mentioned the Oklahoma defense because, well, you know. If OU doesn’t turn the ball over multiple times in October, especially the early pick, and the officiating doesn’t conjure up questionable penalties on both sides of the ball throughout the game, the Sooners — despite their atrocious defense — still win that game by at least 10 points. The Texas offense would’ve probably still found much success in the first meeting, and Mike Stoops may still be out at Oklahoma, but a double-digit win would’ve been a double-digit win, regardless.
So, those are two of the major keys in what Oklahoma must do today to secure a victory in Dallas: take care of the ball and don’t beat themselves with penalties. We all know the OU defense gonna OU defense for most of the afternoon, although a stop, turnover or two are much more likely if playing with a lead and aggressively pressuring against a mostly ball-control-dependent offense.
Force quarterback Sam Ehlinger to beat you, not just allow him to with easy third-down conversion after another. Give the Sooner secondary a better shot at covering the much taller Texas wide receivers with consistent pressure up front. And shut down the run with sound technique, discipline and, oh yes, some solid tackling.
The formula is simple. But while all those defensive keys may be possible for most average defenses, OU fans will settle for a win no matter how it happens — and it’s most likely going to take outscoring the Longhorns for a full 60 minutes. With an even-more determined and focused Kyler Murray leading the way, a fourth-straight Big 12 title and a second-straight CFP bid sits just hours away for Oklahoma. But only if they want it more than their rivals do on the other side.
No one has handed Oklahoma any awards in 2018, yet. It’s time to go collect the first one this afternoon. Sooners hang on to survive an unprecedented Red River Rematch classic to claim the 2018 Big 12 title and march on to face (most likely) Alabama in the College Football Playoff next month.
Horns down and Boomer Sooner.
Score prediction: OU 55, Texas 45
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