The Sooners accept an atomic offense, and Texas will charge to acquisition a way to absolute it in hopes of convalescent to 5-1.
4-1. Four afterwards wins. Two ranked wins in two weeks. A No. 19 civic ranking.
Despite what on cardboard appears to be the program’s best absorbing résumé in contempo memory, the board is still out as to whether or not the advertising aback surrounding Texas is anticipation of the administration the Horns are headed beneath arch drillmaster Tom Herman, or if it’s fool’s gold. The adjudication may actual able-bodied be absitively on Saturday at the Red River Showdown, which will pit a ranked Texas aggregation adjoin a ranked Oklahoma Sooners band for the aboriginal time aback 2012. In the words of FOX Sports analyst, Joel Klatt, “Texas is 60 account abroad from actuality back,” and if that is, in fact, true, Texas is in for the best arduous 60-minute amplitude of its season.
However, the latest copy of the Red River Showdown is abnormally arresting in that the aforementioned can be said for Oklahoma. Appropriately far, the Sooners bristles antecedent foes accept aggregate a aggregate almanac of 9-14, and Oklahoma is one of alone two top 10 teams yet to face ranked antagonism — the added is No. 4 Clemson.
That will change on Saturday with No. 19 Texas application the adverse sideline, and address in apperception the Big 12 implications at stake, Saturday’s Red River Showdown may be the best allusive to booty abode aback 2009.
Baker Mayfield is gone, as is Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown, but aing to annihilation abroad has afflicted for Lincoln Riley’s offense. That absoluteness charcoal authentic acknowledgment in ample allotment to Riley, himself, who becoming aeriform acclaim from Texas arresting coordinator Todd Orlando this week.
“This isn’t some affectionate of luck that Oklahoma has had the best breach in the country for the aftermost four years,” Orlando said. “This is arrangement and players, and a play-caller that’s dynamic. Lincoln Riley is a activating play-caller. Aback he gets you on the ropes, he can accomplishment you.”
While it’s Riley’s admired play-calling that pushes opponents assimilate the ropes, it’s his abysmal abiding of ample abhorrent weapons that bear the knockout blow. Oakland Athletics signee Kyler Murray is now in Baker Mayfield’s abode at quarterback, and he, too, is eying a Heisman Trophy afterwards accession 1,460 yards and 17 array through the air en avenue to a arresting 230.95 passer adeptness rating, which is complemented by 285 yards and four touchdowns with his feet.
Murray hasn’t been activated absolutely as toughly as he will be on Saturday, but appropriately far, he’s affected anniversary obstacle with aeriform colors. Murray’s best contempo airing adjoin Baylor, which concluded with Oklahoma cloudburst 66 credibility assimilate the scoreboard, saw him become the aboriginal Big 12 quarterback aback Graham Harrell in 2008 to absolute six touchdowns through the air and addition account on the arena in a distinct game.
“Indeed, the aboriginal S&P rankings aperture Oklahoma as the nation’s top offense. The breach is amid the nation’s best atomic and efficient, alike on casual downs,” Burnt Orange Nation’s Wescott Eberts wrote. “Murray already has seven casual plays of 50 or added yards, with four added of those plays activity for 60 or added yards.”
While it’s Murray who steals the headlines, his success has absolutely been aided by the affluence of weapons that beleaguer him.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and CeeDee Lamb are one of the best highly-touted receiver tandems in academy football, and they’re assuming up to that acclaim appropriately far. Brown’s team-high 24 receptions accept netted 544 yards on a 22.67 yards per t average, which appropriately rank eighth and ninth nationally.
For as affluent as Oklahoma’s breach is with a assembly of big-play threats, Brown may be the best of the bunch, as his six receptions for at atomic 40 yards atomic the nation.
Lamb is blossom into an aristocratic advantage in his own appropriate as a sopre, extensive the end area on bristles of his 19 receptions and accretion 348 yards forth the way. He and Brown will acceptable blot the aggregate of Murray’s targets on Saturday — the two accept hauled in 43 of the team’s 84 receptions through bristles amateur — but aloft walk-on Lee Morris and bound end Grant Calcaterra, if advantageous and accessible for the Red River Showdown, should accept some affinity of an impact.
Morris has alone anchored six receptions this season, but he’s aloft the end area on three of those catches and is currently averaging 28.7 yards per reception.
As accepted accustomed the atomic options Oklahoma brings to the table, Texas’ accessory slowing the Sooners aristocratic receivers is the antagonism the Horns charge win in hopes of a notching their best awe-inspiring win of the season.
The acceptable account to that end is Texas casual adeptness aegis is positioned at No. 25 nationally (108.58), which is far and abroad the best Oklahoma will accept apparent this season. However, on the added hand, the Sooners aeriform advance is as aristocratic and atomic as any Texas will see this season, as Oklahoma has produced 24 plays of at atomic 20 yards through the air and ranks third nationally with an boilerplate of 18.32 yards per completion.
Texas authentic apprentice Caden Sterns is angry for additional nationally with three interceptions, while chief cornerback Kris Boyd is angry for fourth nationally in passes dedicated (9) and canyon breakups (8), but the assemblage as a accomplished has been affected to sacrificing the big play.
If that trend continues on Saturday, it could be a continued afternoon for the Longhorns.
The Sooners arena d won’t accumulate the aforementioned blazon of attention, abundantly due to brilliant active aback Rodney Anderson’s division catastrophe aboriginal due to a knee injury, but Oklahoma’s backfield has been affluence capable.
With green Trey Sermon confined as the the Sooners makeshift advance back, at atomic for the time being, Oklahoma is averaging 178.6 hasty yards per d throughout its three appearances afterwards Anderson.
Though his carries accept fluctuated aback Anderson’s injury, Sermon enjoyed a 119-yard accomplishment in a win over Army, and apprentice Kennedy Brooks could appear as a solid acclaim afterwards accretion 107 yards and two touchdowns on alone eight carries in a win over Baylor.
However, for a Horns blitz aegis that ranks 29th nationally and hasn’t accustomed a Power 5 foe to blitz for added than 143 yards this season, the tallest analysis will assuredly be absolute Murray. The Sooners gunslinger is averaging 57 hasty yards per airing and leads the aggregation with four touchdowns, and added notably, he presents the added ambit of a play-maker able of befitting plays animate and extending drives with his feet.
When this absolute accumulating of aptitude is bunched together, and again accomplished by Lincoln Riley, the aftereffect is a assemblage that leads the country in plays of at atomic 40 yards (14), ranks eighth in scoring (48.6), 12th in absolute breach (523.2), and seventh in third bottomward chat amount (.545).
The Sooners defense, on the added hand, has been a bit suspect, and that’s putting it politely. For example, aloof accede some of Oklahoma’s accepted civic averages:
However, while the deficiencies arresting on third bottomward and in the red area are inexcusable, as is the issues with tackling, Oklahoma’s aegis isn’t absolutely putrid as the account its raw stats may paint.
The Sooners advanced six, led by linebackers Kenneth Murray and Curtis Bolten, who accumulated for 84 tackles the accomplished two games, can be advised the defense’s backbone to this point.
“I anticipate Kenneth Murray is a hell of a player,” Herman said this anniversary aback asked what stands out about Oklahoma’s defense. “He’s the cement that affectionate of holds them together. Their advanced six is the backbone of their defense. We’re activity to — it’s activity to be a action aggravating to block those guys. It absolutely is.”
Defensive accouterment Neville Gallimore (22 tackles, two TFL) has emerged in the middle, and Mark Jackson Jr. (33 tackles, three TFL) and aloft key Texas ambition Ronnie Perkins (three sacks) are accomplishing the aforementioned on the edges.
Allowing Army to run its way to 383 yards hasn’t helped the accepted perception, but aloft that, Oklahoma’s hasty aegis is sacrificing alone 106.3 yards per game. Furthermore, Oklahoma’s three sacks per d is acceptable for a abode aural the top 20 nationally, although Sam Ehlinger’s adeptness to escape burden and accomplish plays alfresco of the abridged could force that boilerplate to abatement afterward Saturday.
However, the struggles in the accessory accept been a altered story, and that anecdotal is far added negative.
As acclaimed above, Oklahoma is acceptance upwards of 252 yards per d through the air, and that boilerplate could be far worse had it not been for Army’s run-heavy breach award alone 40 yards through the air and Florida Atlantic actuality bound to 192 yards.
A added authentic sample to accede as it pertains to Texas would be how ailing the Sooners accept performed adjoin Big 12 competition. In two affairs adjoin Iowa State and Baylor, the Sooners accept accustomed 776 yards and four array through the air, and added notably, the Cyclones and Bears enjoyed a 75.7 percent success amount on 99 attempts.
Much of the Cyclones’ and Bears’ success came from Oklahoma’s adeptness to acquisition abundant success adjoin bigger, concrete receivers such as ISU’s Hakeem Butler (five catches, 174 yards two touchdowns) and BU’s Denzel Mims (11 catches, 114 yards, one touchdown) and Jalen Hurd (nine catches, 104 yards, one touchdown).
This should appear as music to Texas’ ears, as the Longhorns beginning brilliant receivers are a 6’6 Collin Johnson and a 6’4 Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Oklahoma isn’t afterwards aptitude in its arresting backfield, such as assurance Kahlil Haughton (30 tackles), cornerback Parnell Motley (two interceptions, four passes defended) and aloft Beneath Armour All-American nickel aback Brendan Radley-Hiles. But that aptitude aloof hasn’t equated to success, so abundant like the charge for the Longhorns to absolute Oklahoma’s casual attack, apprehend Ehlinger to ambition his top options added aggressively than we’ve apparent appropriately far.
Odds are Texas will adore some success implementing that strategy, and a added dosage of Keaontay Ingram should prove helpful, but the Longhorns breach aloof hasn’t disconnected touchdown drives calm on a constant abundant base to brainwash too abundant aplomb that Texas can outdistance Oklahoma.
That said, Texas has topped Oklahoma in two of the aftermost bristles Red River Showdowns, and its three losses accept anniversary appear by aloof bristles points, so it’s safe to apprehend addition carefully contested contest. Courtesy of its far added atomic offense, though, Oklahoma seems a bit added acceptable to leave the Cotton Bowl with a aing win.
Prediction: Oklahoma – 31, Texas – 27
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