Strength of Schedule: Texas

The Red River Showdown ranks highly on this list as the Longhorns and Sooners square off again

We go from one big rivalry to another. Although these games are separated by almost two months on the schedule, they are just a few hours apart here. There’s really no necessary build up for this one either. So let’s make it simple and get right to it. Texas leads the series, 60-43-5, but Oklahoma has won three of the last four – except for the last one.

11. Texas

2013 record: 8-5

Last year vs. OU: 36-20, Texas

Why this game is dangerous: Clearly, this game is important every year. That will never change. But this year is different. Last season was the first time since 2005 that both teams weren’t ranked and only the second time since 1999. That could happen again, because the danger specifically in this game is Texas could be playing with nothing to lose. The Red River Showdown could find Texas in a compromised position. It is entirely possible that the Longhorns could be 3-2, with tough home match-ups against Baylor and UCLA. In that position, Texas could be playing under extreme pressure – needing a win to possibly save its season. But with three losses through the first six games, Texas would in dire straits under first-year coach Charlie Strong. Strong can’t afford that kind of weak start – oops.

Players to watch: David Ash vs. Trevor Knight. This match-up couldn’t be more obvious. Without Ash, Texas will flounder. If he’s the player he was two years ago, the Longhorns will be tough to beat. If he misses games again like last year, when he played just three games, Texas will struggle. Meanwhile, this will be the first time Knight will be counted on to win a game. The Texas front seven is stout, filled with former five-star recruits who are realizing there potential and at least two All-Big 12 performers in the group. But the secondary is inconsistent. Although all four have experience, none have showed enough consistency to think that Knight won’t be able to pick them apart. AND if Dorial Green-Beckham is somehow eligible for this season, he’ll have a chance to make an immediate impact. Otherwise Sterling Shepard will take center stage, although he’s likely to have a great game anyway.

Prediction: Health will play a big factor in this game. If Ash isn’t available, Texas might as well not show up. Although a few big injuries on defense for the Sooners would end Oklahoma’s likely unbeaten start to the season. Everything really comes down to Knight in this one. If he struggles or is indecisive, Texas wins. If he settles in and uses his teammates, Oklahoma wins. Knight will be comfortable. Sooners pull away late, 24-13.

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