DALLAS, Texas — All eyes are on the Red River Showdown with ESPN Gameday making an appearance at the state fair, and there are questions and keys for the Longhorns as they head to Dallas and here at Horns Illustrated we’ll take a look at them.
1. Will the Longhorns play loose?
The pressure is really all on Oklahoma in this game. The Sooners are ranked sixth, are favored by Las Vegas and have an overhyped quarterback in Spencer Rattler. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley has had success in this series and Sarkisian does have heavy pressure to win this game in his first year (yes, of course there is pressure, but unless Texas gets blown out no one is going to be drastically complaining about Sarkisian).
2. Does Texas keep Oklahoma’s offense in check?
The Longhorns need better play from their linebackers. Texas missed 16 tackles in the win over TCU and you can expect Oklahoma to have seen that game film and attack what was a weakness last week in the linebacking corps. Rattler hasn’t been great this year — certainly not on throwing the deep ball — but he’s coming off his best game of the year against Kansas State and he has the ability to go off. Success for the Texas defense will be if it keeps the Sooners under 30 points and Rattler to a not very efficient performance. The OU running game isn’t as strong as years past, and we may be seeing that effect on Rattler
3. How fresh will Bijan Robinson be?
He touched the ball 37 times in the win over TCU with 35 carries and two receptions. That’s not a sustainable load for the entire year, but if he doesn’t touch the ball that much, we might be talking about Texas having lost that game. Robinson is young and hadn’t been overused before last week. He’s rushed for 652 yards and seven touchdowns this year. There are no reports of him being injured, and while he won’t have the legs he did in early Sept., he should be good to go.
4. Does Casey Thompson continue to improve?
This will be the best team Thompson has started against. Like Rattler, Thompson has struggled throwing the deep ball, despite overall good passing performances against Rice and Texas Tech. Will OU dare Thompson to throw the deep ball and bring its safeties up as it struggled against Kansas State’s short passing game? That’s a likely scenario. But Texas needs to find a way to get Thompson comfortable in the game early, because if he has a bad game, it is hard to see Texas winning this game.
5. What’s the bottom line on this game?
This is going to be close. While that’s not exactly breaking news, expect Thompson’s legs to be the difference in this game as he provides a dual-threat that the Sooners didn’t see last week and Texas has a better rushing attack.
Oklahoma hasn’t been overly impressive, and we see Texas being a tad more motivated for this game and being able to slow down what is not a great Sooners running game.
Expect Thompson to throw for an efficient 180 yards, Robinson to rush for 125 yards and look for a late Cameron Dicker field goal to be the difference.
Horns Illustrated prediction: Texas 31, OU 30