Week 7 - Texas vs. Oklahoma
Texas QB David Ash
Texas QB David Ash
Posted Oct 10, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions & Game Preview - Texas vs. Oklahoma

Texas (4-1) vs. Oklahoma (3-1) Oct. 13, 12:00, ABC

Here's The Deal: The Red River Rivalry usually has Big 12 championship implications on the line, but this year it's simply a battle for conference survival after Texas couldn't stop West Virginia's running game in a 48-45 home loss and with Oklahoma still stinging a few weeks after getting run over by Kansas State in a 24-19 home gaffe. Each team is extremely talented and each one has the ability to run the table and be in the chase for the conference title, and maybe more, but it all starts here in what amounts to an elimination game. The stakes are always high, but this year, the two teams are back on equal footing.

Texas has to show it's back to form after taking a powder the last two seasons as a program and in this game. It was competitive in a 28-20 loss in 2011, but last year it got its doors blown off in a 55-17 debacle with the team's lone offensive touchdown coming in the final minutes. This time around, the Longhorns have more experience at quarterback, a stronger offensive line, and a defense full of NFL talent and speed. Now it's time for that D to show up after getting ripped apart over the last ten quarters by Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

At least Texas has shown signs of turning things back around to an elite level. Oklahoma hasn't exactly set the world on fire so far, even with a dominant 41-20 win at Texas Tech last week. The offensive line is struggling, the defensive front isn't getting into the backfield, and skill players have been inconsistent. Even so, with Kansas coming up next and Iowa State and Baylor to follow a showdown against Notre Dame, there's a chance to go on a terrific run with a third straight win over the Longhorns.

Neither coach is on any semblance of a hot seat, but after a rough patch, at least by the ridiculously high standard set, Mack Brown could use a really big win again just to show that the ship is pointed in the right direction. Oklahoma hasn't had a big run in this series since the 2000-to-2004 stretch, and while Bob Stoops is still one of the elite of the elite head coaches, a loss might signal a shift in the direction of the conference.

Why Texas Might Win: The Texas defensive ends might spend the afternoon wearing Landry Jones as a hat.

The Longhorn defensive front got gouged by the West Virginia's Andrew Buie, who ran for 207 yards and two scores, but it also got to Geno Smith, forcing two fumbles and generating decent pressure with Alex Okafor registering two of the front four's four sacks. The Oklahoma offensive line hasn't been a disaster after its rocky start, but it's not exactly a brick wall when it comes to protecting Jones, allowing eight sacks so far and enough pressures to throw off the passing attack.

Turnover margin continues to be an issue for the Sooners. OU's offense isn't giving the ball away all that often, but the defense has yet to come up with a fumble recovery and the three picks of Texas Tech's Seth Doege last week were the only takeaways on the year after a pick against Florida A&M. Texas has been fantastic at hanging on to the ball with just three turnovers on the season to go along with ten takeaways. This should be a tight game down to the wire, and a +2 turnover margin could make all the difference.

Why Oklahoma Might Win: The Sooners will find a way to grind away to control the game with the ground attack. There have been problems over the last two weeks with the overall stats bloated by a blow-up game against Florida A&M, but the Texas defensive front isn't tackling well and is giving up way too many big plays, having a bad time against Joseph Randle and Oklahoma State and a worse outing against Andrew Buie and West Virginia. The linebackers can get to the ball, but they're not making the plays once they're there. The defensive front can get into the backfield, but it's surprisingly soft of up the middle and doesn't get physical enough on a consistent basis.

Field goals continue to be an issue for the Longhorns. Former Penn State star Anthony Fera is back after missing time hurt, but he missed a key 41-yard attempt late against West Virginia. While he's better than Nick Jordan, who connected on just 3-of-7 tries, he still has to prove he's back to his all-star, pre-injury status. Meanwhile, Mike Hunnicutt has only missed one of seven tries, and that's because it was blocked in the UTEP win. Only one game since 1997 has been decided by three points, but until Fera proves himself again, OU has the advantage.

What To Watch Out For: With Malcolm Brown struggling through an ankle injury, Texas has relied more and more on Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron, who had their moments against West Virginia but couldn't quite get going. Gray ripped off 87 yards, but 49 of them came on one play, and while Bergeron ran for four scores, he only averaged 2.6 yards per carry. OU gave up 130 yards and a score to Kansas State's John Hubert, and got torn up for 177 yards by UTEP's Nathan Jeffery. Now it should be Gray and Bergeron who come up with the big numbers.

Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills hasn't become a Ryan Broyles-like No. 1 target, but he has been a steady, decent playmaker leading the team with 29 catches for 344 yards and three scores. It's not like he has own Texas, but he has been terrific catching five passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns in last season's blowout and made five grabs for 78 yards and a touchdown in the 2010 win. At 6-1 and 190 pounds he has good size and can move, but he has to prove he can be the guy.

What Will Happen: Oklahoma can't rely on getting three picks like it did against Texas Tech, and it has to prove it can do more to keep the offense moving on a consistent basis. Damien Williams will come up with a few big runs, but it won't be enough to overcome a mediocre day from Landry Jones and a Sooner passing game that won't take advantage of a struggling Texas secondary. This will be yet another game that David Ash shows he's growing into a potential superstar.

CFN Prediction: Texas 31 … Oklahoma 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Oklahoma -3 O/U: 61
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 5