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If this game can somehow live up to last year’s quadruple-overtime matchup, that would be great.
But assuming it doesn’t, the keys are going to be simple. For Texas, can you make Spencer Rattler uncomfortable?
He showed a tendency to be errant with his passes and turn the ball over while under duress through three weeks — the Longhorns will look to do that again. For Oklahoma — make Texas beat you through the air.
The Longhorns are averaging less than 200 passing yards per game — make them beat you with their weakness. I don’t see that happening. We like Oklahoma to cover the spread.
Oklahoma to cover the spread (-115)
Garcia’s 2021 record: (10-7)
The Sooners are undefeated, ranked in the top six in the country, and have beat three consecutive power, five teams.
But don’t tell the fans in Norman that. The pressure is on and tension is high around the Oklahoma program as the team with a pre-season Heisman front-runner quarterback hasn’t appeared as potent on offense as fans would have hoped.
After a few weeks, the calls for Spencer Rattler to go to the bench and Caleb Williams to get the ball were growing, but the sophomore from Phoenix may have calmed the fan base for at least a week after a solid performance in a win against Kansas State.
Rattler went 22-of-25 through the air for 243 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the 37-31 victory last week. It was just the second time this season he’d thrown for more than one touchdown in a game.
Part of the reason for the lack of passing scores might be the fact that Rattler doesn’t appear to have a true go-to guy in the passing attack. Just last week, he had seven players catch at least two passes and nobody catch more than four.
That said, he does have a group of athletes who are all highly regarded recruits and more than capable playmakers. Marvin Mims has a team-high 264 yards this season while Michael Woods II, Mario Williams, and Jadon Haselwood all have two touchdowns this season.
Now, he needs to establish one as a reliable weapon.
The question now for the Longhorns: will they be able to stop the Sooners? Recently, they’ve been improving. Since giving up 40 points in a lopsided loss to Arkansas, they shut out Rice, gave up 35 points to Texas Tech (though much of that was against the second and third-string units), and held TCU to just 27 points and 351 yards last week.
Bijan Robinson was talked about as possibly the best running back to enter college in 10 years when he broke onto the scene in 2020.
He had a nice freshman season, but a Covid year was no way to introduce himself to the country. In case you’ve somehow been living under a rock: world, meet Robinson — a 6-foot, 214-pound bruiser of a running back who can break tackles, cut on a dime, and out-race you to the end zone.
Robinson had the best game of his season last weekend when he ran all over Texas Christian to the tune of 216 yards and two scores on 35 rushes.
When the Longhorns were up by five with four minutes left, Robinson was handed the ball on six straight occasions. He picked up three first downs and milked the rest of the clock as Texas held on for the win.
Now, Texas needs to find him some help. Junior quarterback Casey Thompson completed 12-of-22 passes for 142 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. It was his fourth game where he threw for fewer than 165 yards.
If Texas can’t pass the ball, it can’t win games against ranked opponents, like Oklahoma.
We’ve talked about offense and defense but have yet to mention the third phase of the game — and it’s special teams that is going to be the x-factor in this one.
Oklahoma has one of the best, most reliable kickers in the country in junior Gabe Brkic. Chardon, OH. native is a perfect 18-of-18 on extra points this year and 11-of-13 on field goals with just one miss from inside of 50 yards and a season-long of 56.
Texas’ Cameron Dicker is no slouch himself, though. He’s 25-of-25 on extra points this season and 5-of-7 on field goals, with both misses coming from 45 yards or farther.
Do not be surprised if this game is determined in the kicking game.
|Teams||No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 21 Texas Longhorns|
|Location||Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX|
|Time||Saturday, Oct. 9, 12:00 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||ABC|
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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