The Red River Rivalry takes a unique turn this coming weekend as the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners hook up again. But this time they meet in the month of December and they’ll play in the Jerry Dome in Arlington, Texas. Weird, right? But that’s where we are in this new world of conference championship games. By the way, this will be the first time since 1923 that the two teams have not played against each other in Dallas. That game was played in Austin with Texas winning 26-14, for those who don't remember this game right off the top of their head.
But this one will be different. No heartbreak repeat. No three-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter. No Dicker the kicker saving the day for the Burnt Orange. There is a reason Kyler Murray and company are favored by a touchdown. The Sooners are the better team and laser focused on making the College Football Playoff. They’ve got the ultimate carrot dangling in front of them. That’s the difference in this matchup compared to the game back in October. They’ve got a bigger point to prove.
5 Reasons Why Oklahoma Will Win the Big 12 Championship Game
1. The Sooners are the hot team now
First off, that OU offense is like a freaking video game on “God” mode. We all saw that. And yes, their defense has issues. But if the Sooners' average score is 50, can the Texas offense, which scored just 24 points against Kansas, actually keep pace? No way. Since losing back-to-back games to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, the Longhorns have beaten Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas by seven, 14 and seven points respectively. This is not a team on a hot streak. And if the game is another four-quarter affair, keep in mind that Texas has been outscored 122-to-58 in the final frame.
2. Kyler Murray still has a point to prove
Oh you think the Heisman voting is done and Tua Tagovailoa is a shoe-in? Not even, man. Not even. Murray has one last chance to impress the voters. But more importantly, he also has one last chance to beat the Longhorns. He doesn’t want his Sooner career going down as 0-2 as a starter vs. the Longhorns. Against UT in October, Murray was 19-of-26 for 304 yards and ran for 92 yards, but he also threw an interception and lost a fumble as OU committed a season-high three turnovers to the Longhorns’ zero. He said after the loss, “I feel like if I had taken better care of the ball we would’ve won.” That’s a big motivator right there.
3. Sam can’t shoulder the load
On the other sideline, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger has had his share of issues. Foremost of those is the shoulder problems in his throwing arm. He injured his shoulder originally on the opening drive against Baylor and re-aggravated it against Iowa State two weeks ago. Against Kansas last week you could see that his passes just didn’t have that usual zip and he missed his targets too often. He also threw his first interception in 309 passes (a Big 12 record) as part of a two-pick day vs. the Jayhawks. Ehlinger went just 16-of-28 for 154 yards, his lowest output of the season outside of that Baylor game.
4. Oklahoma’s defense
Yes, I just said it, the OU defense. Now before you start sending the men in the white jackets, hear me out. It’s not that their defense is good. Heavens no. But the Sooners are opportunistic. Just look at that West Virginia game, the Mountaineers put up 56 points, 704 total yards and 33 first downs. HOWEVER, the Sooners' D also scored two touchdowns. Yes, 14 points were scored to help swing momentum and win the game. So Texas linebacker Breckyn Hager is wrong, the Sooners do have a defense… and it can score too. Also keep in mind the Sooners have blocked four kicks this season, so keep an eye on special teams as well.
5. The old adage is “It’s hard to beat a good team twice”
Texas head coach Tom Herman admitted this week that “our kids are tired.” This is not a good time for his team to be low on battery power. The Sooners have the kind of offense that can make an opponents’ legs turn to rubber in just a quarter of football. The revenge factor also will be huge for the Sooners, who look to avenge their only loss of the season. On top of that, OU has never lost twice to an opponent in a single season in the history of its program. And it won’t happen here either. Hey Texas, bring that Golden Hat with you to the game, okay?
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.