The Rev's take...
To this point in the season, Texas has quietly – but impressively – built an undefeated 5-0 record and no. 3 national ranking. After an overly impressive one-loss season in 2008 (where Texas was left out of the national championship game only because of a quirk in Big XII conference tiebreaker rules), the 2009 Longhorns have picked up right where they left off last year.
Critics are quick to point out that Texas hasn’t played anyone yet – as Rusty points out, the Longhorns best win so far came against an underachieving Texas Tech team. But before you turn your nose up too far, take a look at the numbers: Texas has a top ten offense, rolling up 480 yards and 47.2 points per game. The defense? Just as good: Texas is yielding just 233 yards and 15 points per game.
Now, all of that will be put to the test in the Longhorns’ biggest game of the year against their hated rivals, the Oklahoma Sooners. Even though the Sooners already have two losses, they came by a combined two points. And that was with their 2008 Heisman winning quarterback, Sam Bradford, on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Bradford returned last week against Baylor and hung 389 yards on the Bears – and most observers say that was a bad game for him! You can easily make the argument that this team would be undefeated had Bradford not gotten injured, and you know that he’ll be ready to go for this rivalry game.
Fortunately for Texas, they’ve got a superhero of their own in QB Colt McCoy. Perhaps no other person to have ever played QB for Texas has been so aptly named for the position. The gunslinger is the heart and soul of the Longhorns, and he absolutely plays his best on the big stage. Remember, it was McCoy who outplayed Bradford in this contest last year, leading his Texas team to a win over the Sooners. McCoy has put up gaudy numbers again this year, and he will challenge OU with both his passing and scrambling ability.
Oklahoma is an extremely good team, and even with two losses, they are still in position to win the Big XII South with a win against Texas. Texas, on the other hand, has unfinished business from 2008, and they need a win to stay in the national title hunt. This is always one of the best college football games of the year, and tomorrow’s matchup should not disappoint.
Texas is a 2.5 point favorite, and I think that’s a fair line. Watch for the Longhorns to squeak by the Sooners, 33-30.
The Red River Shootout, one of the best and most storied rivalries in all of college football. In recent years, it's been a Big 12 Championship play-in game. You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a team other than Texas or Oklahoma that made it to the Big 12 Championship game from the South. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, it's been this play-in game that's kept Texas out of the Big 12 Championship game for a number of years in the early 2000's. In fact, since 2000 the Sooners have posted 6 Red River wins to only 3 Texas victories, and have only gone to the Big 12 title game twice (2001 & 2005).
This year coming into the weekend's big noon kick-off, Texas may find itself with another large hurdle to leap and I'm not talking about Sam Bradford. Texas's top 2 RB's, Junior Vondrell McGee and freshmen Tre Newton have combined for over half of Texas's rushing attack this season, but will be watching the action from the bench with injuries this coming weekend. Their replacements, co-starters Cody Johnson and Foswhitt Whitaker have combined for only 123 yards on 29 carries, so far. The good news is that they have combined for 7 of the Longhorns 14 rushing TD's, but they've gotta get close to the goal line before they can score.
On the other side of the ball, the Sooners injury report looks a whole lost more promising. 2008 Heisman winner Sam Bradford came back last week in a warm-up game against Baylor. He looked a little rusty, but was still able to pass for almost 400 yards in a win. I imagine with a big game against his new buddy Colt McCoy this coming weekend, Bradford will be back in full force. In last year's losing effort, Bradford tallied 387 yards and 5 TD's, but it was a poor rushing attack that really sealed the deal. This year's attack looks a bit stronger, averaging almost 200 yards on the ground per week.
Make no mistake about it. OU's got a tough contest against Texas. Texas sports a top 10 offense, and top 5 defense. But unlike Oklahoma, who has played 2 ranked opponents, Texas only real competition so far has been Texas Tech, who hasn't exactly matched its previous year's success.
Now, before you start calling ole Rusty a hypocrite for picking against the Sooners just a few short weeks ago, realize the vastly different situation. Against, Miami, the Sooners were without Bradford, halfway across the country in hostile territory against an unknown team. This week, in Dallas, they face an opponent they are all too familiar with and Bradford's 100%. I anticipate a hard fought contest, but a clear OU win. Rusty's going with the Sooners, 31-24.