2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Oklahoma vs. Texas
Big 12 Fearless Predictions &
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Oct. 8 Oklahoma 55 … Texas 17
CFN Analysis: The Sooners pitched a near-perfect first half to show that yeah, they really do belong in the Best Team In America discussion with LSU and Alabama, with Landry Jones cementing a spot in the top five of the NFL Draft whenever he’s ready to come out. The most telling moment came at the end of the first half after giving up the kickoff return for a score to Fozzy Whittaker. Jones came down and boom, boom, boom, struck right back for a touchdown in the final minute, and 27-10 going into halftime, and with UT having all the momentum, became 34-10 and ballgame. This is a special Sooner team that’s playing with confidence, aggression, and apparently, a bit of an attitude. At a time when all the conference realignment talk in the Big 12 is focusing mostly on Texas, this was OU’s statement that it’s the premier program in the Big 12 at the moment.
Texas still has some growing up to do. The Longhorn offense looks like it has tremendous potential with David Ash, Case McCoy, Jaxon Shipley, Malcolm Brown, and Mike Davis forming one of the best young groups of skill players in college football, but the defense has to be a big, big concern. There wasn’t any pass rush on Landry Jones, and the secondary got picked apart. There won’t be a break the rest of the way facing tough passing game after tough passing game, and the offense has to be ready for a shootout. While young, the O can’t afford to ever turn the ball over five times again. Apparently, the defense isn’t good enough to pick up the slack.
(AP) DALLAS -- Landry Jones and the Oklahoma Sooners made a strong case Saturday to return to the top of the college football poll.
Having slipped from first to second to third over successive weeks, the Sooners showed they deserve to be considered the best in the land with a 55-17 thrashing of No. 11 Texas.
Oklahoma stomped its top rival almost as easily as it did lowly Ball State the previous week, getting three touchdown passes from Jones, a 64-yard touchdown run by Dominique Whaley and three defensive touchdowns.
The Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) scored the first four times they had the ball. They were up by 24 points at halftime and by 45 midway through the fourth quarter on the way to their most lopsided win in this series since 2003, when they won by a series-record 52 points.
The Longhorns (4-1, 1-1) were trying to figure out how far they've come since being 5-7 last season. Now coach Mack Brown's knows just how far his squad still has to go, especially on offense.
Sophomore Case McCoy and freshman David Ash had their share of rookie mistakes at quarterback, such as McCoy fumbling twice (one returned 19 yards for a touchdown by David King) and Ash throwing two interceptions (one returned 55 yards for a touchdown by Demontre Hurst).
McCoy and Ash couldn't keep drives going. The Sooners swarmed running plays and the youngsters were only able to complete short passes. The longest completions before the game turned into a joke were a screen for 15 yards and an 18-yarder along the sideline against a prevent defense in the final seconds of the first half.
How silly did it become? Late in the third quarter, Texas let a first-and-10 at the Oklahoma 15 turn into a fourth-and-49 from its own 47. The ensuing punt didn't even reach the first-down marker.
Texas' only touchdowns came on a kickoff return late in the first half, and a pass in the final minutes. The Longhorns also had an early field goal that had gotten them to 6-3.
The Sooners were so ready for the Longhorns that they let them know it before kickoff. Oklahoma players lined up between the 30s and hollered at Texas players as they ran onto the field. Coaches and officials scrambled to maintain peace.
OU drove inside the Texas 10 on its first two series, but settled for field goals of 26 and 24 yards, seemingly bothered by the noise at the end of the field occupied by Texas fans. The Sooners moved into the friendly end for the start of the second quarter and, on the first play, Jones threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills.
An interception by Tony Jefferson -- a linebacker who picked off passes on three consecutive series against Ball State -- gave Jones another series. After threading a 30-yard pass between two defenders on a third-and-25, Jones hit Ryan Broyles with a 5-yard pass just inside the right front corner of the end zone.
The play had to be reviewed, and Oklahoma fans used the break to start chanting "Boomer! Sooner!" Longhorns fans answered with their chant "Texas! Fight!" Their cries lasted longer and were louder than their foe's, only to end with the news that the touchdown stood.
Texas fans were hardly heard from again. Once Oklahoma got its third defensive score -- a 56-yard return of a fumble by Jamell Fleming with 11:22 left -- most folks in burnt orange headed out to drown their sorrows at the State Fair going on all around the Cotton Bowl.
Jones was 31 of 50 for 367 yards and no turnovers. He improved to 2-0 against the Longhorns, and gave Oklahoma its third win in five years against its Red River rival.
Broyles caught nine passes for 122 yards, leaving him four receptions shy of the NCAA career record. Stills caught five passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
Whaley ran for 83 yards on 13 carries.
McCoy was 9 of 16 for 116 yards with three sacks. Ash was 11 of 20 for 107 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions and four sacks.
Jaxon Shipley caught nine passes for 89 yards, including a 4-yard TD pass from Ash with 2:31 left.
Fozzy Whitaker had the 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, tying the school record set by Johnny "Lam" Jones in 1978. He also ran for 43 yards and caught a pass for 15.
Oklahoma (4-0) at Texas (4-0) Oct. 8, 11:00, ABC
Here’s The Deal … With one win, Texas can get back to being Texas again.
Rebuilding the Longhorns into a national title superpower appears to be a bit of a process for head coach Mack Brown, fighting through an inconsistent offense and getting through life after defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, but there’s no questioning the talent level and there’s no questioning the speed and athleticism are impressive enough to stay with anyone in America. Now the big wins have to start coming, and it starts with beating Oklahoma for the third time in four years.
The Sooners are No. 1 in the only poll that matters – the Coaches’ Poll – but compared to LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Alabama, they’ve been a little shaky. It’s all relative, but the offense sputtered a bit against Florida State, and the defense got a little loose late against Missouri, but those are two strong teams and OU won both games by double digits. 2000-2004 was the last time the Sooners came up with any sort of a streak in the series, and while putting down the rival is always nice, they have bigger fish to fry. Every game for the Sooners has national title implications this year, but getting by Texas is a key piece to the puzzle.
The offense destroyed Ball State without a problem, and the defense is playing at a high level – the fourth quarter against Missouri really wasn’t any big deal – but it’s time for the Sooners to make a statement. LSU has been intimidating from the start, Alabama was phenomenal against Arkansas and Florida, and Wisconsin obliterated Nebraska in its showcase game. Beating Florida State was nice, but it was ugly. Beating Missouri was good, but it was a yawner. This is when OU needs to flex a little muscle just to show that it can, but really, it doesn’t matter too much at the moment. As long as the Sooners keep winning, they’ll finish in the top two and will play for the national title, but with Stanford and Wisconsin nipping, a blowout over Texas would all but end the debate for the time being.
Texas, on the flip side, just needs to win to be in the national title chase. Beating the No. 1 team would instantly put the Longhorns into the top five, and possibly the top three, and with three home games in a row and four in the next five, the expectations would be back to a 2009 level. However, as tough as this week’s game is, getting by Oklahoma State next week won’t be much easier and big road games against Missouri, Texas A&M, and Baylor are looming, but for now, dealing with OU is enough to worry about.
This game used to be, essentially, for the Big 12 South title, but now it’s just a very big game in a very good year for the conference, but with Texas A&M and Tech coming to Norman, and with Missouri already out of the way, this might be the toughest remaining test before the regular season finale at Oklahoma State.
One of these two teams represented the Big 12 South in the conference championship game 12 years in a row, and in 13 of the 15 years of the league’s existence, and while winning in Dallas doesn’t ensure a free pass to a championship - the loser went on to win the Big 12 title in 1996, 2006 and 2008, and UT lost in 2001 and went on to lose to Colorado in the title game - it’s always going to be a major step and it’ll still be a deciding factor in the new round-robin conference format. Texas has three conference titles and Oklahoma seven, and even with so many other strong teams in the league, the winner in Dallas will be the odds on favorite to add to its total.
Why Oklahoma Might Win: Texas doesn’t have the offense to keep up the pace.
Life has been better without Garrett Gilbert, the star-crossed wonder-recruit who never found his way and now is lost for the year with a shoulder injury, but it’s not like the Longhorn attack is blowing up. The offensive line is playing far better than it did last year, and the running game has found something in freshman star Malcolm Brown, the passing game is still trying to crank out yards and still trying to find the right mix. The efficiency is there and the big plays are starting to come, but the offense has been steady and consistent over the last two games in good performances against UCLA and Iowa State. Oklahoma’s defense is better than UCLA’s and Iowa State’s.
The Texas defense is its normal excellent self, but the pass rush hasn’t been anything special. It came up with three sacks last week against the Cyclones – partly because of the coverage in the secondary – as the line came up with its strongest game yet, but the defense hasn’t faced a top-shelf passer yet and it hasn’t had to deal with the variety of weapons like OU has. The Sooner offensive front has been phenomenal, improving by leaps and bounds from last year allowing just two sacks in the first four games while paving the way when needed for the ground game.
Bottom line, Texas is very good, and it’s far, far better than last year, but across the board it doesn’t do any one thing better than OU with the exception of …
Why Texas Might Win: Punt returns. This rivalry over the last several years has been defined by big plays in key moments, and sometimes, the special teams ends up providing the spark, like they did in the classic 2008 game when Jordan Shipley turned the momentum around with a return for a score on the way to a 45-35 win. Oklahoma was the far better team last year and Texas still battled well and had a chance in a 28-20 loss. The last four games have been fights, and if it comes down to something quirky happening, Texas might be in the better position to catch the break.
OU isn’t getting much out of the return game, averaging just 4.44 yards per punt return and 18 yards per kickoff return, and while Texas isn’t getting much on its kickoff returns, the Longhorns are getting production on the punt returns, even though there haven’t been many.
Texas isn’t screwing up. Gilbert was responsible for two of the team’s five turnovers, while the defense is doing a strong job of taking the ball away with 11 so far. Oklahoma isn’t exactly shooting itself in the foot, but if Texas can hang on to the ball and if it can be even plus-one in turnover margin, the running game might be there to keep the game under control and make this close. Oklahoma is supposed to win; the pressure is all on its shoulders.
What To Watch Out For: The Oklahoma secondary is due to be tested. It was pushed a wee bit by Florida State, and Missouri’s James Franklin kept forcing the ball in the loss, and now the Sooners have to home their secondary is back to normal. Star corner Jamell Fleming has had a decent first part of the season, but he’s coming off a concussion, as is safety Aaron Colvin, a good hitter who was out of the Ball State game and is needed to help out on the short to midrange plays.
Can the Texas passing game provide the needed push? Case McCoy was steady against Iowa State, completing 7-of-12 passes for 110 yards, and while he appears to be the long term answer, David Ash has been every bit as strong completing 7-of-12 throws for 145 yards and two scores last week.
Sophomore Mike Davis made three catches in three of his first four games and came up with his first score last week, while Jaxon Shipley has looked like a pro from the start of his true freshman season leading the team with 16 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 41 yards and a score. Shipley, Davis, Ash, McCoy, and Malcolm Brown form a terrific nucleus to build around for the next three years, and this is the game to see if they can grow up in a hurry.
What Will Happen: Not yet. Texas will show promise and potential, and it’ll have a good rest of the season, but it won’t quite have enough in the bag to get by a focused Oklahoma team that’ll get over a rocky first half to pull away in the second. The Sooners won’t run the ball a lick, but the defense will shut things down as the game goes on and Landry Jones will spread the ball around well enough get a hard fought win.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 31 … Texas 17
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Oklahoma -9.5 O/U: 56.5
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