Posted on October 10, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners had something in common coming into the 2017 season. Expectations were high for both. New head coach Tom Herman was expected to do wonders with the Texas offense. ‘Big Game’ Bob was no longer leading the Sooners. But they were still supposed to be in the national title hunt.
Texas is no longer ranked like it was to start the season. But a win over the Sooners could certainly be enough to put them back in the top 25. With the loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma is on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Another loss would definitely knock them out of the pitcher.
Regardless of how either team is playing, this game typically ends up being a close, hard-fought game. With the strengths and weaknesses that each team has this season, chances are good fans are in for an epic game.
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The Sooners are led by perennial Heisman candidate, Baker Mayfield. With the help of a talented group of receivers, the Oklahoma passing game is the fifth best in the nation (384.4 yards/game). When combined with the rushing attack (202.6 yards/game; 36th in the nation) it gives the Sooners the most productive offense in the country (587 yards/game).
Oklahoma’s defense is not bad (46th in scoring; 23.2 points/game). But the secondary has been getting shredded lately. Baylor’s Zach Smith threw for 463 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago. Last week, career back-up quarterback Kyle Kept threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
Texas doesn’t have a powerhouse offense, but freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been getting better and better with each passing week. He nearly took down USC in his second career start. Last week he generated 487 yards of offense (380 passing and 107 rushing) in a double overtime win over Kansas State.
The Longhorns will want to lean on their defense and running game if they can. The less time Baker Mayfield spends on the field the better. Chris Warren III was expected to pick up the slack this season with D’Onta Foreman now playing for the Houston Texans. But the 250-lb. junior has struggled to break free this season.
There is talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they appear to struggle to get it together sometimes (i.e., Maryland). But then they showed how well they could play against USC. By the numbers, they are better at stopping the run (105.2 yards/game allowed; 17th). But they struggle against the pass (249 yards/game allowed; 97th).
Baker Mayfield is probably eager to tear the Texas secondary to pieces. At the same time, Holton Hill would love to get his third pick-six of the season.
So—who’s going to win?
In recent years, this has been a very close game and this year is going to be no different. Look for Mayfield to have a career day as he looks to prove that the last two weeks were the exception and not the rule for Oklahoma. Ehlinger will also end up having a career day as he shreds the Oklahoma defense on the ground and in the air.
The difference in the game will come down to one of two things. Whose quarterback makes more mistakes? Whose defense can slow down the other’s offense more?
Talent-wise, Oklahoma is better. But Texas has the better coaching right now.
It took a few weeks, but the Sooners appear to be missing ‘Big Game’ Bob now. He would know how to rally the troops and get things turned back around. Riley is only in his third season at Oklahoma and first as head coach. He doesn’t know how to turn a program around yet because he’s never done it.
Look for Herman to earn his paycheck and figure out how to take this one home for the Longhorns. Take Texas and the points (7.5).