Simms Seeks Breakthrough Against Sooners
DALLAS (AP) — In two games against Oklahoma, Texas quarterback Chris Simms has thrown two passes that resulted in touchdowns.
Both were for the Sooners.
Linebacker Rocky Calmus took one 41 yards for a score two years ago and linebacker Teddy Lehman went 2 yards for another last year on the game's signature play, a flying hit by Roy Williams into — who else? — Simms.
Now a senior, Simms goes into his final Red River Shootout on Saturday hoping to finally do some things Longhorns fans would like to remember instead of forget. He's 35-of-65 for 265 yards with five interceptions and no Texas touchdowns in consecutive losses to Oklahoma.
``They made the big plays when it counted,'' Simms said. ``This year, I'm just looking forward to getting another chance.''
With the Sooners (5-0) ranked No. 2 and the Longhorns (5-0) at No. 3, the 97th meeting between the schools sets up as one of the best. This is the eighth time they've met when both were in the Top 5 and it's the first time that's happened in consecutive years. The last time both were ranked this high was 1984, when No. 1 Texas and No. 3 Oklahoma tied at 15.
Both were almost knocked from their perches last weekend. Texas needed a late interception to hold off Oklahoma State 17-15, then a few hours later Oklahoma used some fourth-quarter trickery to beat Missouri 31-24.
There's no chance either team will be taking the other lightly this week.
If either side had a right to be cocky, it'd be the Sooners. They shredded the Longhorns 63-14 two years ago and were in control throughout last year's 14-3 victory.
But OU tight end Trent Smith, a fifth-year senior, remembers being on the losing side the two years before that. In fact, over the last nine years, the series is split 4-4-1.
``It's not like we've had a decade of dominance over their guys,'' said Smith, who over the summer resurrected former Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth's line about burnt orange making him want to puke and earlier this week said he stood behind it.
``This game is not going to be some huge blowout affair for either of us. It's going to come down to someone making a great play. Someone's going to be a hero after Saturday.''
Simms hopes it's him so he can vindicate himself after the last two years. It also would let him shed his label as someone who can't win the big one. Despite being 20-4 as a starter, he's 0-3 against Top 10 teams — with no touchdown passes.
Oklahoma quarterback Nate Hybl also could use a victory to boost his stock with Sooners fans.
Despite being 13-1 as a starter — the third-best winning percentage in school history — he's neither as lovable as predecessor Josh Heupel nor as exciting as successor Jason White. Hybl lost his job to White starting with this game last season, but has gotten it back twice because of knee injuries.
Hybl leads Simms in pass-efficiency rating, mainly because he has no interceptions and Simms has three. Hybl has thrown 148 straight passes without being picked off. He threw 13 interceptions last year.
``I'm a lot more calm under the gun,'' Hybl said. ``It's just from playing in a lot of big games. You just have a different outlook on these games. You're able to handle all the hysteria surrounding it.''
The biggest defensive challenge for Oklahoma won't be Simms. It's sophomore running back Cedric Benson, who didn't have a carry in last year's game yet finished the season with the most yards by a freshman in school history. He's averaging 124 yards per game this season.
``I know my guys are going to want to be extremely committed and prepared to have a great game,'' Sooners co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. ``They'll need to play well for us to have success.''