Oklahoma vs. Texas 10-17-09

October 17, 2009

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(20) Oklahoma (3-2) vs. (3) Texas (5-0)

Saturday, October 17th, 12:00 p.m. (et)

GAME NOTES: One of the nation’s oldest and most recognized rivalries is set for this weekend, as the 20th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and third-ranked Texas Longhorns meet in the Cotton Bowl in the 104th edition of what is tabbed the Red River Rivalry.

The atmosphere, which is like no other game in college football, is something that OU’s Bob Stoops tries to put in perspective.

“What gets you most is probably the importance of the game in our league and having a step towards the Big 12 Championship and that sort of thing. The rest of that we don’t participate in, we see a bunch of people yelling at us on the busses as we pull in but after that you’re on the field and we don’t pay much attention to it.”

The Sooners are usually in the hunt for not only the Big 12 title, but a national title as well, but find themselves on the outside of the national championship picture, having lost two of their first five games. However, both losses came with their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback on the bench due to injury. Sam Bradford returned to the field last week and looked sharp in leading Oklahoma to a 33-7 pasting of Baylor in the conference-opener for OU.

Mack Brown’s Longhorns also have their eyes on a conference crown, but are still very much in the hunt for much more. Texas has jumped out to a 5-0 start to its season, including moving to 2-0 in league play with last week’s 38-14 win over Colorado.

These two teams first met in 1900 and Texas is the only member of the Big 12 with a winning record against Oklahoma, holding a 58-40-5 all-time advantage. OU however holds a 7-6 edge since the Big 12 was formed in 1996. This marks the 81st straight year that this game has taken place in Dallas.

Sam Bradford was knocked out of the first game of the season with a shoulder injury and missed three and a half games in all. However, he looked fine in his return last week, throwing for 389 yards and one TD, without an interception against Baylor. With his effort, Bradford tied a school-record for most 300-yard passing games, with 14. With standout WR Ryan Broyles (23 catches, 346 yards, seven TDs) out of the lineup (shoulder blade), Brandon Caleb took over as the go-to-guy downfield and hauled in seven balls, for 139 yards. There is a chance Broyles could return this week, and that would certainly help Bradford and the passing game.

Stoops knows what it means to have Bradford back.

“No slight on Landry (Jones), but in any game, how can he not make a difference? Last year he was the best player in college football, how can he not? Sure he does, absolutely he does. In the end, we’re not talking about just any old guy. He’s been pretty special over and over.”

On the year, the Sooners are still putting up impressive offensive numbers, despite the overall record, chewing up 457.0 ypg, with a solid mix of the run (187.8) and the pass (269.2).

The ground game has a pair of outstanding ball carriers in DeMarco Murray (5.3 ypc, three TDs) and Chris Brown (4.7 ypc, three TDs) and both have the talent to take over a game.

The overall numbers on the defensive side of the ball are equally impressive for Oklahoma, with the team allowing just 8.4 ppg (third nationally), on 256.0 ypg (ninth nationally). The rush defense has been particularly stingy at 53.6 ypg (third nationally).

Playmakers abound on the OU defense, but the strength is in the linebacking corps, with standouts Travis Lewis (team-high 46 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, one sack), Ryan Reynolds (39 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, three sacks, one INT) and Keenan Clayton (23 tackles, one sack, two INTs). Safeties Quinton Carter (32 tackles, one INT) and Sam Proctor (25 tackles) and cornerback Brian Jackson (22 tackles, three INTs) highlight the play in the secondary, while rush end Jeremy Beal (9.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks) and tackle Gerald McCoy (7.5 TFLs, 2.0 sacks) anchor things up front.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy returned to Austin this year to lead his team to a national title, and perhaps pick up a Heisman along the way. He hasn’t hampered the chances of either goal being reached with his play thus far. McCoy has completed over 73 percent of his passes on the year, for 1,410 yards and 10 TDs. It doesn’t hurt to have a stud on the outside in All-American candidate Jordan Shipley. The 6-0 senior has hauled in 47 balls in the first five games, for 583 yards and three TDs.

The passing game, which is generating a hefty 304.6 yards per game, sets up the running attack, which is churning out a healthy 175.0 ypg. Both Vondrell McGee (5.7 ypc) and Tre’ Newton (5.0 ypg) have the ability to move the chains and keep drives alive.

The result is the seventh ranked team in terms of total offense (479.6 ypg) and the top scoring team in the land (47.2 ppg).

The Texas defense has also been formidable this season, allowing just 233.0 yards per game overall (fourth nationally). Those numbers are certainly aided by the nation’s stingiest rush defense (46.2 ypg).

This is a unit with several veteran leaders, starting with senior linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy. The 6-2, 235-pounder leads Texas in total tackles (38), with six TFLs and two sacks. Up front, the team looks to ends Sergio Kindle (19 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, two sacks) and Sam Acho (18 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 5.0 sacks) to get pressure on the quarterback. The secondary is deep and talented, headlined by DBs Curtis Brown (23 tackles), Aaron Williams (22 tackles, two forced fumbles) and Earl Thomas (20 tackles, four INTs.

This is always a brawl and nothing should change this time around. With two of the nation’s premier defenses on display, anything can happen, a notion shared by Mack Brown.

“We have the two best defenses in the country. It will be really fun to watch the two defenses play because they play well every week.”

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