Is Texas finally back?

Question to be answered at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against No. 7 Oklahoma

Photos courtesy University of Texas Athletics 

The Texas Longhorns have teased the college football world in the past few seasons with performances that left fans asking, “Is Texas back?” Each time, Texas has unraveled and fell further into the pits of mediocrity.

Longhorn coach Tom Herman hopes a promising 4-1 start with wins over No. 22 Southern Cal and 17th-ranked Texas Christian continues with a win over arch-rival Oklahoma in the 113th Red River Showdown.

The seventh-ranked Sooners arrive in Dallas undefeated but have doubts surrounding them. Sooner quarterback Kyler Murray has thrived in head coach Lincoln Riley’s high-octane offense, with wideouts Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb leading a group of talented playmakers. However, the Sooners are in search of tailback to replace the loss of Rodney Anderson due to a severe knee injury and have become a bit one dimensional. Also concerning for Oklahoma is being just two weeks removed from a 28-21 overtime victory over Army in which the Black Knights ripped a porous Sooners defense for 339 yards on the ground.

The question for Texas is whether it will be able to maintain enough passing/rushing balance and give quarterback Sam Ehlinger favorable matchups against a Sooner secondary that is allowing over 250 yards passing per contest.

Time of possession figures to be pivotal in this game as Texas has won the possession battle by over seven minutes per game in its four wins, while Maryland’s five-minute advantage in Week 1 paid dividends against a tired Longhorn defense. Keeping the electric Sooner offense off the field will be crucial for the Longhorns’ success.

 

Despite leading the series 61-46-5, Texas has struggled in the Red River Showdown since 2000, losing 12 of 18 contests, including the last two. The Cotton Bowl will provide an awesome spectacle as half the field bleeds crimson and cream and the other half burnt orange.

Beginning in 1912, the Red River Showdown has taken place in Dallas every year with the exception of three games and has been played at the Cotton Bowl since 1932. Interestingly enough, the University of Oklahoma is 191 miles from Dallas while the Austin campus is 196 miles from the Cotton Bowl.

There have been 11 Top-5 matchups in the series with the latest being in 2008 when Colt McCoy led the fifth-ranked Longhorns to a 45-35 win over Sam Bradford and the No. 1 Sooners. From the Longhorns goal-line stand in 1994 to preserve a 17-10 victory, to Oklahoma standout safety Roy Williams’ “Superman Play” that sealed a win for the Sooners in 2001, the rivalry is filled with moments that are etched in the minds of both fan bases.

Legendary Longhorn coach Darrell Royal was an All-American defensive back at Oklahoma and part of a Sooner group that won 31 consecutive games under Sooner great Bud Wilkinson. In addition, eight Heisman Trophy winners (two from Texas and six from Oklahoma) have suited up in the series.

While Oklahoma has seven national championships to four for Texas, the Longhorns’ 2005 title is the most recent for either program.

Can Murray continue his Heisman-caliber play or will the Longhorns spoil the Sooners’ national title hopes and become nationally relevant once more themselves? Saturday’s tilt will provide us a clearer picture of both teams. H&A

Kickoff for Texas versus Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas is set for 11 a.m. CDT on FOX 

Photos courtesy University of Texas Athletics 

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