With the Red River Rivalry game between No. 15 Texas and No. 13 Oklahoma coming up on Saturday, HornsNation's Carter Strickland and SoonerNation's Jake Trotter answer a few questions.
1. Does OU still have an edge at QB?
Carter Strickland: No. Over the past six games David Ash has actually had the better stats and a better winning percentage, 5-1 to 4-2 for Landry Jones. But the reason OU’s advantage is not as great as is not just because of Ash. Texas has more weapons on offense and is more comfortable getting the ball to the players and letting them create in space.
Jake Trotter: I believe the QB edge still goes to the Sooners, but it's nowhere near as decisive as it's been the last two years. Landry Jones is coming off his best game in almost a year, but he’s looked shaky at other times this season. David Ash on the other hand is clearly improved and is taking care of the ball while completing a high percentage of his passes. But experience counts for something in this rivalry, and Jones, a senior appearing in his fourth OU-Texas game, has the nod here.
2. Which player should each side be afraid of most?
Strickland: Alex Okafor. The OU offensive line is not as stout as it once was and Okafor might just be the best defensive end in the conference, closely followed by his bookend Jackson Jeffcoat. Okafor was a on a tear against West Virginia’s Geno Smith, sacking him twice, forcing two fumbles and blocking a field goal. Okafor has six sacks and 12 quarterback hurries this season.
Trotter: OU cornerback Aaron Colvin is turning into a big-time playmaker. He picked off one pass in Lubbock, and tipped another that led to Javon Harris’ 46-yard touchdown return that put the game away in the third quarter. Texas will try and establish the run early, but eventually Ash is going to have to throw Colvin’s direction. That hasn’t gone well for opposing cornerbacks thus far.
3. Who could be a surprise impact player for each side?
Strickland: Daje Johnson is a player to watch for OU. The freshman is the most elusive runner Texas has and if he is able to get a corner he will be tough to catch. Without Malcolm Brown, Texas will have to go other options on offense and Johnson could get close to 10 touches in the run and pass game.
Trotter: He’s no longer a secret in Norman, but middle linebacker Frank Shannon is still a relative unknown after his superb performance off the sidelines against the Red Raiders. It will be interesting to see how the Sooners manage his playing time along with starter Tom Wort. But the Longhorns better keep an eye out for the redshirt freshman, who is quickly blossoming into an impact player.
4. Any chance either side blows out the other?
Strickland: Not sure if there will be a blowout but there will be a lot of points scored. Texas has done a better job of taking care of the ball and it usually turnovers that lead to blowouts. Oklahoma had costly miscues against Kansas State but appears to have righted the ship.
Trotter: Barry Switzer said this week he doesn’t see it happening. I agree. The two teams are pretty even, and with Ash doing a better job taking care of the ball this season, a rout either way is unlikely. One of the two QBs would have to cough the ball up two or three times for the game to get ugly.
5. What will be the determining factor in who wins?
Strickland: Special teams. Texas has been abysmal in kick coverage but very good on kick returns. OU has not had a kick return for a touchdown since 2007. Texas has three in the past 14 games. On the other side of things Texas does not have a proven kicker. Anthony Fera missed a critical kick for 41 yards and as a team Texas is four of nine on field goals. Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt has only one miss and that was from 44 yards on his first kick of the season.
Trotter: The game will come down to two factors. No. 1: who takes care of the ball best? And No. 2: who rushes the ball more effectively? As it is in most years in this game, the answer to those questions will go a long way in determining the victor.