This week, Joey Helmer of Sooners Illustrated and I hashed out every matchup when either team has the ball. I've listed my choices below.
David Ash vs. the OU Safeties — Push
Texas Receivers vs. the OU CBs — Texas
Texas OL vs. the OU DL — Texas
Landry Jones vs. the UT Safeties — Oklahoma
OU RBs vs. the UT LBs — Oklahoma
OU Receivers vs. the UT CBs — Texas
OU OL vs. the UT DL — Texas
Prediction: Manny Diaz talked this week about the Longhorns' need to get better at defending in critical situations, and this week's most fascinating matchup features that very scenario. Per S&P+, the Longhorns are excellent, as in No. 2 in the country, at defending on passing situations. So if Texas gets Oklahoma into second-and-third-and-long situations, the Longhorns have the Sooners right where they want them, right? Well, except that Oklahoma is No. 7 nationally in offense on those passing situations.
Here's the thing. I'm a bit more bully on Texas's defense than a lot of people, for two reasons. First, the Longhorns have played three of the country's top six offenses, according to S&P+, in the past three weeks. And after allowing Oklahoma State to run AND throw all of them, Texas at least took away West Virginia's strength. To me, they're showing some progress.
And I'm also more down on Oklahoma's offense, which hasn't exactly been a terror despite having the playmakers to be. Again, if we're using S&P+, Oklahoma isn't even a top-25 offense (they're No. 29), a steep drop off from what Texas has been facing. And even if you don't like advanced stats, consider this: Oklahoma has only put up more than 450 yards once this season, and that was against Florida A&M. The last two weeks, the Sooners have had 386 and 380 yards, respectively.
I also think that the Texas defensive line against the Oklahoma offensive line might be the single biggest advantage across all the position groups, and I have the Longhorns with the advantage on both lines. That's huge.
Granted, I do think the Oklahoma defense might be the best one Texas has faced. But I don't see Oklahoma holding Texas under, say, 25, and I don't see the Oklahoma offense scoring 40 or more. That leaves this game right in Texas's wheelhouse, and I think the Longhorns pull it out.
TEXAS — 31
Oklahoma — 24