Texas v. oklahoma

TEXAS LONGHORNS v. oklahoma sooners
Hey Longhorns – I don’t care what time it is when you read this, “o who?” still…

I’ve had this day marked on my calendar for a year, so bear with a longer-than-normal preview this week. Like most of you, I absolutely despise that team who plays north of the Texas border. I don’t like to say their name, talk about their coaches or players, or think about their ugly colors. I think their mascot is stupid. I never capitalize their team name or their state. They don’t deserve it. You really want to know how excited I am for this weekend’s game? I’ve spent nearly every business hour this week reading articles about the match-up and evaluating our strengths and weaknesses against ou. I told my girlfriend to take a week off from Nordstrom’s and do some pre-game shopping on the University Co-op Web site. I wrote an email providing background of the Texas/ou rivalry for my girlfriend as pre-reading so she wouldn’t distract me with questions during the game. I had my “final” phone call with a relative-to-remain-nameless who is a sooner (don’t let this relationship take away from my credibility as a die-hard Longhorn) in which we broke down the game – we won’t talk for weeks after the game, no matter the winner, until cooler heads prevail. I’ve debated which of my numerous Longhorn shirts and hats are going to be the “lucky ones” this year. My boss and my girlfriend think there may be some truth to the saying “orangeblood” and that I might have been born with too much of it. I won’t lie, my head is filled with stats and schemes and player’s names – so much so that I’ve lost sleep this week thinking about this game. No matter what, I’m ready for the ‘Horns to get on the field and lay the smack down on the sooners.

But, for fun, how about a few modest ou jokes to get this started?

“Why doesn’t Texas fall off in to the Gulf of Mexico? Because oklahoma sucks.”
“ou coach Bob Stoops will only be dressing 20 players for the Texas game. The rest will have to get dressed themselves.”
“How do you make ou cookies? Put them in a big Bowl and beat for three hours.”

The Recap: Texas v. Colorado
Final Score: 38-14
I don’t want to jinx myself, but my score predictions so far this season have been fairly spot-on. I was only 10 points off this week, as I predicted 35-21. Let’s hope my streak continues! Texas looked fantastic again against Colorado, and the defense absolutely stifled the Buffs offense all game. And finally, a Texas RB had more yards rushing than QB Colt McCoy. The day absolutely belonged to RB Chris Ogbonnaya, as he was the star running and receiving on Saturday night, and he’ll be the starter this week against ou. No major issues, although I’d like to see the OL step it up one more notch this week, and there were no major injuries.

Highlights:
RB Chris Ogbonnaya had a 65-yard TD catch on the third Texas offensive play of the game. On the day, he totaled 71 yards rushing on nine carries for a TD, and had 116 yards receiving on six catches and another TD – by the far the best day by a Texas RB so far this season.

For the first time this season, a RB led the team in rushing. Ironically, the same RB also led the team in receiving yards. Nice work, Ogbonnaya.

Ogbonnaya was four yards shy of setting the all-time record for receiving yards by a Texas RB, behind Eric Metcalf, who set the record in 1985.

WR Quan Cosby was the next best receiver on the day, tallying nine catches for 71 yards.

QB Colt McCoy had another good outing, minus the two INTs, as he completed 23 of 30 passes for 262 yards and two TDs. He also had 39 yards rushing on 11 carries. McCoy passed James Brown and Major Applewhite on Texas’ all-time passing list.

DT Roy Miller had his best night of the year – eight tackles, a fumble recovery, and had he been playing for the New York Yankees he would have been an all-star, because he batted (passes down) so well.

The Texas defense held CU’s two heralded freshman RBs to 49 yards rushing, and an abysmal 266 total yards on offense for the day. The defensive line in particular is peaking at the right time.

Texas’ time of possession was 14 minutes more than CU…that means the offense held on to the ball, the defense kept CU off the field – exactly what Texas needs to do against ou.

Lowlights:
Not many when two of my four comments are about CU and Mack Brown’s wife.

Colt McCoy had two INTs on the game to bring his season total to three. The first one was his fault, the second was on a ball that should have been caught, but got tipped up in the air and was picked off by a Buffs defender. Let’s hope he got those out of the way in the CU game, and is perfect against ou.

The offensive line needs to pick it up this week – they didn’t look bad, but Colt got sacked three times by a weak defense front, and they had decent pressure on him all night. Expect ou’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables to bring some of the same looks this week. Pick it up, boys.

Well, for Colorado, three missed FGs in the game. Every chance they had to put points on the board and take away some momentum from Texas, they couldn’t. Tough night for the CU kicker…I hope he’s not on scholarship.

Sally, coach Mack Brown’s wife, fell while hiking in Boulder and broke her arm and got a good gash on her head. She’ll be fine and recover; I expect her to be on injured reserve for about 4-5 weeks.

Links:
ESPN: “Ogbonnaya scores 2 TDs, saves another as No. 5 Texas cruises”
TexasSports.com: “No. 5 Texas rolls over Colorado, 38-14”
AA-S: “Ogbonnaya looks like an answer at running back”

This Week
Eyes of TX’s Prediction
Texas 35, oklahoma 30

This is THE game. Oklahoma is the #1 team in the country. Texas is #5. Big 12 and national championship implications ride on this game for both teams. ESPN’s College Gameday will be in attendance, and expect good ‘ol Lee Corso to don the Bevo head in his pre-game predictions. This game has been talked about by every college football analyst, and it’s finally here. It’s time to strap it on, get amped up, and lay the wood to those sooners. Greg Davis, you’d better be on you’re A-game, Will Muschamp we welcome you to the rivalry. You know Stoop’s sooners are going to be jacked up for this game, so let’s return that intensity ten-fold. The pot boils over this weekend.

oklahoma sooners (5-0)
Let’s be clear about one thing. Oklahoma is #1 for a reason. They have looked unstoppable this year. They have not trailed a single second of any game they’ve played. Their kicker has attempted only one field goal – apparently they just like to score TDs instead. The talent is there, as always, and they’re hitting on all cylinders. It’s going to take a perfect game from the ‘Horns to win this one, and my guess is that it goes one of two ways – Texas wins in a close game, or oklahoma wins in a blowout. As my prediction suggests, I’d rather not see another Debacle in Dallas.

The starting QB for ou, Sam Bradford, is the sooners’ biggest weapon and he has improved every year he’s been on the field, and this year is no exception. Depending on what you read, Bradford is leading the race for the Heisman Trophy. He is 6’4” and 218 pounds, and what he has in size, he absolutely lacks in speed. This kid beats you through the air, plain and simple. There is nothing complicated about the offense, they just line up and throw for TDs. Bradford has a 72.6 percent completion rate this season (which is phenomenal), good for 1,665 yards and 18 TDs with only three INTs. Given time, he will pick a defense apart. He is dead-on accurate, and his has a quick release which he uses to find anything the defense will give him. The no-huddle offense is an advantage for ou, but if Texas can stay sharp, get to him early and not let him get into a rhythm we’ve got a shot at disrupting one of the best offenses in the country. The RBs by committee – DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown and Mossis Madu – have been mediocre, at least compared to ou teams of old, and they use their passing game to set up the run and keep defenses honest. They all, however, have big play ability if Texas isn’t spying them. They worry me, and I think our front line can handle them, but ou’s potent passing attack against our young secondary worries me the most. The guys out there catching balls are outstanding – at WR, seniors Manuel Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias, who total 869 yards and 10 TDs on 49 catches this year (and are very similar to Texas’ WRs in size and talent); at TE, Jermaine Gresham who is absolutely massive and will play in the NFL one day – he is huge, has good quickness and hands, and is an excellent blocker – and he has 16 catches for 278 yards and four TDs this season; finally, a converted CB in redshirt freshman Ryan Broyles who is small and quick and has tallied 13 catches for 256 yards and three TDs. That is a scary WR corps, Longhorn fans. The offensive line is extremely good, with five returning starters, four of whom are seniors. While they allow ou to amass an average of 540 yards per game in offense, their weakness has been blocking for the running game, which is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry. TCU exposed some of that weakness in ou’s last game, and Texas’ defensive line is far and away the best they will face this year. But, ou’s only given up five sacks this year, so Texas will need to beat them in the trenches and get some pressure on Bradford to be successful over four quarters. Texas leads the country in sacks this year, so let’s keep that going this week.

On defense, the sooners could easily match the ‘Horns in terms of talent. Expect to see DT DeMarcus Granger return this week, as well as Gerald McCoy. Both demand attention, and will probably be playing on Sundays in a year or two. Those two alone can control the inside, and at DE look for star Auston English to bring pressure around the end. You might remember English from Cotton Bowl-past when he put a wicked late hit on Texas’ McCoy on a play which was blown dead – I don’t think Colt knew where he was for a good five minutes after the hit, and I’ve never seen Mack Brown more fired up on the sideline. I would love to give him a cheap shot right back this year. Their LBs are anchored by Ryan Reynolds, who I swear has been at ou forever. Their other LBs are talented, albeit less experienced, but they do lead the defense in tackles as a group, which is exactly what any defensive coach wants. The front seven for ou have accounted for 12 sacks this year – and that’s impressive no matter the team you’re playing. Their corners are both 6’ or taller, and they’re athletic, and their safeties are big as well. But, I think this is their defensive weakness. They haven’t really had a team push them in the passing game, and if Colt has time to throw and makes good reads, I think he could pick them apart. In other words, both offenses will look to do the same thing – take advantage of inexperienced CBs. The sooners defense is not as loaded as year’s past, but they’re still very good and they put quick athletes on the field that can make plays. The kicking game is not good, and in a close game, this is where I think Texas pulls away. As I mentioned, their kicker has attempted and made only one FG this year, and he’s missed two PATs. The punts and kick coverage are mediocre at best, so I think if Texas decides not to fair catch every kick, we’ve got a shot at a big return in special teams.

My analysis leads me to believe that ou will force Texas to cover the underneath passing game – screen passes and short, drag patterns – early in the game and force Texas’ young CBs to come up and make tackles. Mixed with some inside and outside runs, they will open up in to the play-action pass down the field to their TE and WRs down the field as the game wears on. Pressure is key, and I think whichever defense puts more heat on the opposing QB wins this game – the game, I think, will be won in the trenches. The team that leaves their secondary on their own for too long goes down in a hurry. I think Texas will try to maintain their blocks up front to give Colt time, and I like Colt outside of the pocket and hitting his receivers in one-on-one coverage. The offensive line is key, and with ou focused on McCoy, I think the RBs might have some room to run. The ‘Horns cannot get in a one-track mind, though, because like the Chris Simms years, we know what ou can do with a single target to go after. This game is so evenly matched, on paper, that I think it’s a close game that Texas wins by their special teams play. But, they’ve got to come out and execute the basics.

If the ‘Horns win this week, they’ve taken a huge step toward a big season…but will have another huge test a week later against #3, and undefeated (to-date) Missouri. Let’s take care of business, put it all on the line, get a win, and come back with a strong focus for Missouri. This is it – primetime. Make it happen.

ou Pre-game Links:
ESPN: “Mature, confident McCoy looking better than ever”
ESPN: “Fiery Muschamp has turned around Texas defense”
ESPN: “Red River Rivalry has finally arrived, UF looks to spread its wings”
ESPN: “Breaking the huddle on the Red River Rivalry”
ESPN (Insider): “Bradford and McCoy can change the game through the air and on the ground”
ESPN: “Separation Saturday showed the Big 12‘s Haves and Have-Nots”
ESPN: “Starting with Saturday, big match-ups litter schedule”

Resources
Texas Exes Alumni Association Web site: http://www.texasexes.org/
Texas Exes Membership Department: 1-800-369-0023 (for membership card requests)
Texas Exes Puget Sound Chapter Web site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/texas_exes_puget_sound/

Hook ‘em!

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