A Rivalry Renewed: Red River Rivalry

Story posted October 7, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by John Sloan

The Red River showdown is one of the biggest rivalries in college football, spanning over 100 years of crimson red and burnt orange clashing on the field. This Saturday, another chapter will be added to that history as the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners meet at the Cotton Bowl  in Dallas.

Historically, these matchups have had Big 12 title implications and are seen as battlegrounds for some of the best talent college football has to offer. This season, however, sees both teams in a different light as they struggle to find consistency in what has amounted to a .500 season so far for each team.

Texas enters this game following consecutive losses to Cal and Oklahoma State. Both games were shootouts, with the defense being the main culprit for their struggles as they gave up 50 and 49 points respectively. In response to their defensive woes, head coach Charlie Strong has demoted defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and taken the reigns of the defensive playcalling himself.

After a huge overtime victory against Notre Dame in week one and a blowout win over UTEP in week two, Big 12 title contention seemed like a strong possibility, but now Coach Strong finds himself on the all-to-familiar hot seat. Finishing with a below .500 records in his first two season at the helm, Strong hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations set by the university and fans. Big games like this, under the national spotlight can have big implications towards if Strong remains head coach throughout the duration of this season and into the future.

Oklahoma finds themselves in an interesting spot entering Saturday’s game. They are currently the second highest ranked team in the AP Top 25 to have two losses. Entering the season as the number three team in the country, they are now sitting at number 20, with loses to 15th ranked Houston and third ranked Ohio State. With eyes set on back to back Big 12 titles, this game against Texas is a must win for Oklahoma.

Much like Texas, Oklahoma has failed to make stops on defense, giving up 91 points in their last two games combined. This lack of production on defense has been alleviated by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has produced solid numbers so far, throwing for 1,067 yards and nine touchdowns to only two interceptions. Along with Mayfield, running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon have shined, with 587 yards and six touchdowns between them.

Texas freshman quarterback Shane Buechele has impressed so far this season while trying to fill a void at quarterback that has been left since Colt McCoy left after the 2009 season. While there has been a slight dip in production in his last two games, the fact that they have a consistent option at the position is a very good sign for Texas moving forward.

Texas and Oklahoma’s defenses are 46th and 47th respectively in total yards allowed, so there is an expectation that this game will be a high scoring shootout. Superior skill players and coaching will put Oklahoma over the top in what should be a back and forth game.

Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Texas 31

 

John Sloan is a senior majoring in print journalism. To contact him, email jps5614@psu.edu.