As the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns prepare to face each other for the 111th time in their storied rivalry, the equal 2-2 records don’t mean that the game will be any less epic. Oklahoma has won four of the last six meetings, but since 2012 the two teams have alternated wins with the Sooners taking the Golden Hat Trophy back to Norman on the even number years.
Last year the Longhorns steamrolled the Sooners in Dallas. Using strength and athleticism along the offensive and defensive fronts, Texas dominated the line of scrimmage and imposed their will on Oklahoma. Now the two teams come back together in what could be a Big 12 championship elimination game. Both are 2-2, yet both took drastically different approaches to get there. The Sooners dropped two games to two of the Top 5 ranked teams in the country and alternated wins over ULM and #21 TCU with those losses. The Longhorns started the season 2-0 (with wins over #10 Notre Dame and UTEP) and then dropped a 50-47 decision at Cal and lost their conference opener 49-31 at Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns are scoring at an average of 41.3 points per game which ranks them #23 nationally in offense. Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele is completing 65.5% of his passes for an average of 240 yards per game. He’s thrown eight touchdowns and three interceptions on the season.
Senior Tyrone Swoopes is mostly used as a runner in the “18-Wheeler” package but he isn’t completely exempt from throwing the football. Swoopes has completed five of his eight passes this season for 66 yards and also has an interception. A short-yardage specialist, Swoopes is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has scored five rushing touchdowns on the season.
Ball distribution has been pretty even among the Texas receivers. Speedster John Burt and former quarterback Jerrod Herd have fourteen receptions each and three other receivers have thirteen catches. Burt is averaging 13.6 yards per reception and Herd is tied for the team-high with two touchdown catches. A total of six different players have caught a touchdown pass for the Longhorns.
The running game has been Texas’ bread and butter this season. The Longhorns are averaging 261 yards per game on the ground which ranks them second in the conference behind Baylor. D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III have shared an equal 62 carries each. Foreman is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, with 5 rushing touchdowns, and Warren 5.9 with 3 scores. Both were banged up against Oklahoma State last week and Warren has been ruled out for this Saturday.
Now we get to the primary issue with Texas football. The Longhorns are dead last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, and ranked 113th national, in giving up an average of 38.3 points per game. Opponents are also posting an average of 428.5 yards per game against Texas, which is also a conference worst.
Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.7% of their passes against the Longhorns (highest completion percentage in the conference) for an average of 274.8 yards per game. Texas has allowed 12 passing touchdowns this season and has yet to record an interception.
The Longhorns are a bit better against the run (partially because of the success people are having with the pass) where they are third in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed per game at 153.8 yards per contest. Opponents are averaging 3.6 yards per carry with 42 attempts per game.
Sophomore linebacker Anthony Wheeler has recorded 18 tackles in the last two games and leads the team with 31 total tackles. Defensive end Breckyn Hager is second on the team in total tackles (23) and paces the team with 3.5 tackles for loss. Texas has been relentless in attacking the quarterback with 14 quarterback sacks through the first four games. Five different players have recorded two sacks this season.