The 2017 edition of the Red River Showdown finds Oklahoma slumping and Texas surging
As the old saying goes, when Oklahoma and Texas tussle at the Cotton Bowl in October, you can throw out the record books. The Sooners would probably welcome striking at least last week’s result, a 38-31 upset loss to Iowa State, from the ledger. Meanwhile, Texas scored a double-overtime win over Kansas State behind freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s arm and legs.
OU’s defense appeared to be in disarray against the Cyclones. Now the Longhorns get their shot at adding to the Sooners’ defensive woes.
Another lethargic effort from Oklahoma could lead to the Sooners’ first two-game losing streak in the regular season since before Bob Stoops came to Norman. UT would love nothing more than to pin that loss on its hated rival from up north.
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Oklahoma -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. What’s Texas doing at quarterback?
Sam Ehlinger piloted UT to a near upset of USC and a W over KSU, which is never a given for the Longhorns. Sophomore Shane Buechele has had his fair share of struggles in his second year as a starter while battling injuries. The discrepancy leaves room for speculation as to why Texas head coach Tom Herman continues to insist that Buechele is competing for the top line on the depth chart.
Is there something we don’t know, or is Herman playing mind games with his QBs?
2. Baker Mayfield’s rapport with his receivers
Oklahoma’s QB has garnered plenty of hype in the last year, and he’s still putting up gaudy passing statistics. Still, his game just looks off – forcing ill-advised throws downfield and holding onto the ball for far too long.
That could be due in part to his lack of comfort with his receiving corps. Mayfield needs to find his way onto their same wave length, especially if freshman phenom CeeDee Lamb (shoulder) can’t play this weekend.
3. Oklahoma’s effort
It was lacking from the defense against Iowa State. Badly.
The Sooner defenders loafed and took poor angles in pursuit. They also didn’t show much interest in winning balls in the air when the Cyclones threw down the field. All in all, it looked like a group of players who were overconfident or just didn’t care.
If OU’s D can’t get up for this rivalry game, Lincoln Riley could have a serious problem on his hands.
Will the loss to Iowa State snap the Sooners out of their funk?
That’s the operative question for this game. Texas is improving under the Tom Herman regime, but for now, the Sooners remain the better team of the two. That doesn’t count for anything, though, if OU’s players continue going through the motions.
In light of the setting for this game, expect a far better effort from the Sooners. Look for a sharp game from OU and a good-but-not-good-enough performance out of Texas. In the end, Baker Mayfield will out-duel UT’s QBs and take home the Golden Hat in his last appearance in the Cotton Bowl.
Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Texas 31
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.