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Thursday, 9 October 2014

2014 Red River Rivalry Preview: Texas vs. Oklahoma

The Red River Rivalry, formally known as the Red River Shootout, has one of the richest histories of any rivalry game in all of college football. It places two of the greatest programs in the sport together every year to earn bragging rights for the next 365 days.

Texas vs. Oklahoma fill the Cotton Bowl every year with half the stadium burnt orange and the other half crimson. It is a sight like none other in college football and one that brings chills to the diehard fan.

This year the Texas vs. Oklahoma game has an odd feeling much like last year’s contest. Last year Texas entered this game with little to no hope at all of winning and pulled off a dominant 36-20 victory.

Oklahoma and Texas both enter this game coming off a loss, which is a very rare occurrence in the history of this rivalry. The Sooners were upset last week by TCU in a game that was full of dramatic plays.

The Longhorns came off a 28-7 loss, but in strange way the loss showed signs of improvement in the long run. The Longhorns’ defense held Baylor to one of their worst offensive performances in the last four seasons. Texas’ problem is their offense is downright offensive due to injuries and suspensions.

This game on Saturday has a feeling similar to last year in terms of Texas having little to no shot of winning according to the national perception. The one thing about rivalry games is that you truly never know how it will turn out. They always say throw out all the records when it’s a rivalry game and that is so true.

Texas holds the all-time advantage in wins in this rivalry, but come Saturday none of that will matter, at least not to Oklahoma fans. This game Saturday will be another historical brick in the rivalry that has some of the most hated moments ever.

As we take a look at the details of this game the one thing that has to stand out is the offense, or lack of offense, Texas has. They have had multiple injuries this season, including the starter to open the season David Ash, and this has hurt the Texas offense.

Texas’ Head Coach Charlie Strong will get his first taste of the Texas State Fair and of this rivalry. His ability to not be overwhelmed by the moment will be key in this game, but his big game experience will be a plus for him and his coaching staff.

On the other side Oklahoma will have to not let the loss to TCU bother them in preparation for this game. They have to realize it was just one loss and their Big 12 title and final four hopes are still very alive. A win against Texas would be great revenge for last year and a stepping block to a great rest of the season.

I feel the difference in this game will be the struggles on offense for Texas. I don’t believe they will have enough firepower to outscore an explosive Oklahoma offense. Despite their loss last weekend to TCU, Oklahoma still scored over 30 points. Their defense will not have to face anything like they saw against TCU in terms of offensive production.

Texas will have to run the ball and play keep away if they hope to win. That’s exactly what they did last year in the upset victory over Oklahoma. The Longhorns have a great running attack with quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and running back Johnathan Gray. These two must make plays to keep the Texas’ defense off the field as much as possible.

So, I see Oklahoma finding a way to pull out this win thanks to a down field passing attack and solid run game. The Texas’ defense will play well, but they won’t have the offensive support to help back them. This was the case last week against Baylor and it will be the same story this weekend.

In the long run this Texas program will be back under Strong as coach, but right now he just doesn’t have the offensive weapons to compete. Oklahoma will wear this Texas defense down in the second half and pull away late.

I have Oklahoma winning 31-20 in a much more competitive game than most expect. Texas will show up and show the nation they are well on their way back to the top of the Big 12. This year, however, the Sooners are just better and will find a way to show it on Saturday.

The Red River that separates Texas and Oklahoma has said to be blood because of the hate between these two teams and Saturday that hate will come to life right before our eyes.


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