One of college football’s most storied rivalries revs up again this week. No. 19 Texas (4-1 overall, 2-0 Big 12) and No. 7 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) meet at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday for the annual Red River Showdown.
Here are five things Texas fans need to know about Oklahoma:
1. No Baker Mayfield, no problem
Most quarterbacks would have a hard time filling the shoes of a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL draft pick who, in his last two seasons as starter, recorded the two highest single-season passing efficiency numbers in NCAA history. But that hasn’t remotely been the case for Oklahoma junior Kyler Murray, who had a tough act to follow in Baker Mayfield.
Murray, a former Allen High School star who went 42-0 for the Eagles and won three Texas state titles, has statistically been even better than Mayfield and quickly turned himself into a Heisman candidate.
Through five games this season, Murray has a 231 passing efficiency, which is currently No. 2 in the country behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Mayfield posted marks of 196.4 and 198.9, respectively, in his final two seasons at Oklahoma.
Murray is completing 70.6 percent of his passes and has already thrown for 1,460 yards and 17 touchdowns to just two interceptions. He’s also a tremendous threat in the ground game, with 285 rushing yards and four touchdowns this year.
At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Murray is by no means physically imposing. But he has a more-than-capable arm and is dangerous on the run.
2. Oklahoma without
its top RB
Losing Rodney Anderson, who last year rushed for 1,161 yards and 13 touchdowns, to injury earlier in the season was a major blow to the Sooners’ offense.
Anderson, a junior, hurt his knee against UCLA in Oklahoma’s second game of the season and is out for the rest of the year.
Since then, Oklahoma has turned to a healthy dose of Trey Sermon. The sophomore running back now has 55 carries for 294 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Freshman back Kennedy Brooks, a Mansfield native, was also a spark plug for Oklahoma’s running game during Saturday’s 66-33 rout over Baylor (eight carries, 107 yards, two touchdowns).
And of course, Murray remains a large threat with his legs in this dynamic offense.
3. Sooners’ offense one of the
best in college football
On paper, Oklahoma’s offense is on a whole other level compared to Texas.
Oklahoma is averaging 48.6 points per game, which is 20 points better than Texas’ average. Oklahoma also easily bests Texas in yards per game, with 523.2 compared to 396.6. The Sooners rank No. 12 in the country in total offense, No. 8 in scoring offense and No. 7 in third-down conversions.
The gaudy numbers Oklahoma has consistently put up in recent years show why head coach Lincoln Riley is one of the best offensive minds in college football.
Oklahoma has playmakers all over the field on that side of the ball starting with Murray at quarterback, complemented by an explosive supporting cast of Sermon and wide receivers Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb.
4. Watch out for Kenneth Murray on defense
There’s another K. Murray on Oklahoma’s roster who’s been a nightmare for opposing teams this season.
Sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray has been an absolute menace through five games and is one of the best defensive players in the Big 12.
Texas coach Tom Herman even recognized as much during his Monday press conference when asked what jumps out about Oklahoma’s defense.
“I think Kenneth Murray is a hell of a player,” Herman said. “He’s the glue that kind of holds them together.”
Murray currently leads the Big 12 in tackles with 64 and is tied for third in the league in sacks with three. He also ranks No. 8 in tackles for loss with six.
5. Oklahoma the heavy favorite
The Sooners are currently eight-point favorites over Texas. It’s a fairly significant spread for Oklahoma, but considering its offensive numbers this season, it’s easy to see where Vegas’ thinking is.
Also, consider this stat, per national college football reporter Brett McMurphy:
Oklahoma has won the last two Red River Showdowns, each by a margin of just five points.
The Sooners will try and win three in a row over the Longhorns for the second time this decade. Oklahoma won each meeting from 2010-12.
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