No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. No. 15 Texas Longhorns (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Saturday October 13th, 2012. 12:00PM Eastern
Where: Cotton Bowl Dallas, TX
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Okl -3.5/TEX +3.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Red River Rivalry 2012 edition kicks off this Saturday from the Cotton Bowl when the no. 13 Oklahoma Sooners collide with the no. 15 Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns are coming off their first loss of the season last week to the undefeated Mountaineers in a 45-42 shootout but looking to bounce back and extend their all-time series lead over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry which currently stands at 59-42-5. Oklahoma on the other hand shook off their loss to Kansas State with an impressive 41-20 victory over Texas Tech to hand the Red Raiders their first loss of the season. Oklahoma has won 8 out of the last 12 against the Longhorns in the rivalry including two straight. The Sooners will be slight favorites again when they meet the Longhorns inside the historic Cotton Bowl.
Of course a win in one of the fiercest rivalries in college football is a monumental accomplishment, but the winner of this Saturday's slug fest will also keep their name in the midst of the Big 12 Championship hunt. Since both teams already have a loss in conference play, another loss would certainly put each team's hopes on the back burner. Before last Saturday, Texas appeared to be a front runner in the conference balanced with a dynamic offense and solid defense. However, the Longhorns defense (now 74th in the FBS) had no answer for Geno Smith giving up 460 total yards and 48 points to the Mountaineers high power offense. It was the 2nd straight week that the Texas defense gave up huge numbers dating back to the Oklahoma State outing. Needless to say, the defense will be tested heavily again this Saturday against the Sooners' explosive offense that just hung 41 points on the top ranked defense in the country last weekend.
Entering last week, Texas Tech ranked number 1 in overall defense. Those numbers may have been inflated due to inferior competition but the Red Raiders had a solid defense either way you look at it. However, Oklahoma moved the football well as QB Landry Jones went 25 of 40 passing for 259 yards and 2 scores. Perhaps more impressive than Oklahoma's offensive success, was the Sooners' defense that stifled the Red Raiders offense. Before Texas Tech's final drive in the 4th quarter, Oklahoma had only given up 27 yards in the entire 2nd half before giving up a late game garbage touchdown drive. The Sooners defense (17th in the FBS) forced 3 picks against Seth Doege and frustrated the Red Raiders offense all game.
Oklahoma's defense will be tested again this week by an even better quarterback in Longhorns' sophomore star David Ash. Ash currently ranks 3rd in the country with a stout 180.1 quarterback rating that has resulted from a 77.5 completion percentage backed with 11 touchdowns and just 1 interception on the season. Even in the loss last week to West Virginia, Ash was brilliant completing 22 of 29 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown.
The Longhorns have run the ball really well this season averaging over 200 yards per game by sharing carries between Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown, and Johnathan Gray. However I will be the first to say that Ash may need to throw the ball even more, possibly in the 35-40 passes per game range considering the type of accuracy he has displayed throughout the first half of the year. Not to mention if the Longhorns defense continues to struggle, Texas just needs to ride Ash's hot arm until his production falls off.
For the Sooners to win the game, I believe they need another suffocating performance from the defense and they are going to have to put up another big number on the scoreboard. Landry Jones needs to have another solid outing and get the ball to WR Kenny Stills (29 rec, 344 yds, and 3tds). Additionally, running back Damien Williams needs to make some plays on the ground to keep the Texas defense off balance and keep the chains moving. Texas is going to score points. The Longhorns are simply too balanced not to move the football but I also believe Oklahoma can frustrate the Longhorns defense' with the same balanced formula. If those scenarios play out which I believe will happen, we may have another classic Red River shootout in Dallas.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Anything can happen in these rivalry games and usually do. This is a very evenly matched pairing meaning turnovers and possibly special teams could have a huge impact. The Longhorns appear to have the edge in both of those categories and I believe Texas will make just enough plays to get the win. I'm betting the Texas Longhorns at +3.5!
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