Matchups: When Oklahoma Runs the Ball

One of the biggest differences between Oklahoma and other spread teams has been the effectiveness with which the Sooners have run the ball over the past few years.

While Oklahoma doesn't appear to have a DeMarco Murray in this year's crop of running backs, they've still been pretty effective in that phase of the game, rushing for more than 177 yards per game at 4.4 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns.

Most of that production has come courtesy of walk-on Dominique Whaley, who has 379 yards on 70 carries (5.4 per tote) and seven touchdowns. He's averaging almost 95 yards per game. Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Brandon Williams have also carried the ball 10 or more times, with Williams making his breakout debut last week against Ball State.

Both Clay and Finch were parts of a stellar 2010 recruiting class that paid immediate dividends behind Murray a year ago. Williams is still listed as No. 4 on the depth chart, but when he was running at Brookshire, there were some who felt that he, not Cibolo Steele's Malcolm Brown, who was the best running back in the state. Brown is now starting at Texas.

And you can't forget about Trey Millard, one of the Big 12's best and most versatile fullbacks. He has seven carries and four catches on the season.

The Sooner offensive line has been pretty strong as well, though the running game struggled at Florida State and against Missouri, putting up 119 rushing yards in the former game and averaging just 3.7 yards per carry in the latter. Neither has a defensive unit as strong as the one the Longhorns will bring to the field on Saturday.

In fact, it's difficult to find fault with the Texas unit, other than the fact that the Longhorns are trying to put together a bit more consistency. They've been gashed at times with the inside zone, a play that Oklahoma runs with a high level of frequency. But that has been more of an occasional thing, with the Longhorns allowing just 3.5 yards per carry.

That defense is fresh off one of its better jobs, holding Iowa State scoreless for a half and largely shutting down everything the Cyclones tried to do. Texas has been pretty salty against the run, with excellent run-stopping ends in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, and an excellent tackle in Kheeston Randall.

And the emergence of Ashton Dorsey opposite Randall has been arguably the biggest key to the defense's success so far. Not only has Dorsey been an excellent player, but he's opened things up for linebackers like Emmanuel Acho, Keenan Robinson and Jordan Hicks to flow to the ball, and has allowed the Longhorns to find a four-man tackle combination that keeps everybody fresh.

This one will come down to the front line and how confidently Texas fills its run fits. When the Longhorns do their job in that category, there isn't a team in the country that can run on them. But those occasional lapses can lead to big plays, and Oklahoma doesn't need any help in that department.

Advantage: Longhorns

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