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Oklahoma Sooners face blundering Longhorns in Red River Rivalry

Sooners have a chance to put an exclamation point on one of the worst starts in Texas history

Things have gone from bad to worse to nearly catastrophic in Austin, Texas during the past few weeks. Plagued by a third-straight week of porous special teams play, the Texas Longhorns barely avoid their worst shutout loss in the last 107 years.

Without a late touchdown, Texas’ 50-7 loss to TCU would have been arguably the worst defeat in school history. It was already pretty bad. The Longhorns (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) lost to TCU in consecutive years for the first time since 1959 and allowed 30 points in a quarter for the first time since 1987.

The Longhorns had only one yard late in the first quarter. TCU had already posted 220.

All in all, Texas is off to its worst start since 1956, when the Longhorns went 1-9.

“Totally disappointed, frustrated after the past two weeks how we came out and battled and competed,” said Texas coach Charlie Strong, whose job security has been called into question. “We came out (Saturday) and just didn’t play hard. Just simple, fundamental techniques. . . . You get into a big game like this, and you have the offense, and we have to play better.

“We’re looking for more leadership, do a better job of coaching, and we’ve got to get this turned around. We have no choice.”

Strong cleaned house before his first season with the Longhorns but has yet to see any tangible results on the field. Texas is 7-11 under Strong through a year-and-a-half. Strong has lost his first four games against Baylor, TCU or Oklahoma.

He’ll get another chance against No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday in the Red River Showdown.

“I told (the team) we’re not going to give up, and we’re not going to give in,” Strong said. “We have to learn how to compete. We don’t know how to compete yet. There’s something about pride – pride in yourself. It’s a very competitive sport. This is a game of life. You have to know when things aren’t going right, that someone has to step up. That’s just not what we’re getting right now.”

Texas, which has only beaten Rice this season, hasn’t been completely void of success. The Longhorns averaged more than 30 points per game in the three games heading into the eventual TCU rout. But Texas has also posted a single-digit point total twice and is allowing more than 36 points per game.

There’s not a lot for the Longhorns to look forward to – but the Red River Showdown always presents a chance to polish what has been a pretty bad season.

“As coaches we have to provide that leadership and keep pushing [the players],” Strong said. “The young guys just want to play, and the more you play them, the happier they’ll be. When you don’t have that key guy, somebody that can lead the team, we need to find him.”

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