Keys to the Game

Wes Maulsby

Texas leads the all-time series 59-41-5, including having a 47-37-4 advantage in Dallas. The postwar series — after 1945 — is much closer, with Texas holding a slight advantage 33-30-3. If history is any indicator, the Longhorns will have a few things to keep in mind Sunday if they hope to get that 60th overall win.

Win the turnover battle:
Since Mack Brown took over at Texas, turnover margin has played a big part in this rivalry. This can be said for many football games, but it seems to be particularly true in this series. Only once has a team lost the turnover battle and still won the game. In 2002, Oklahoma came from behind to beat Texas 35-24 in a game where quarterback Nate Hybl threw four interceptions. On two occasions, the turnover battle has been even. The first one came in his first game in the series, a 34-3 win with each team throwing one interception. The second came in 2004, where Oklahoma and Texas each had three turnovers in a 12-0 loss to the Sooners. In every other game, the turnover margin has decided the winner, including the last six meetings.

Win the Game before:
After finally breaking the losing streak in 2005, Texas has gone 4-2 against the Sooners, and the two losses both came on the heels of a loss the week before. In 2007, Colt McCoy threw four interceptions in a 20-point home loss to Kansas State before a 28-21 loss to Oklahoma. The same situation presented itself last year. Texas was gashed by UCLA before losing to Oklahoma in a similar fashion, 28-20. There have been several seasons in which Texas lost at least one game before the Red River Rivalry, but Mack Brown has only lost the game immediately preceding it three times, with the lone win coming in his second season where the Longhorns lost to Kansas State at home, but then went on to beat the Sooners 38-28.

Defense wins Championships, But not necessarily the Rivalry:
The last two matchups in the series have featured close games with the combined margin of victory being just 11 points. In each of those games, the team that had the best statistical offense lost the game. In 2009, Texas was out gained by 42 yards, while allowing Landry Jones to pass for 327 yards, 200 more than McCoy in a 16-13 dog fight. Last year’s team outgained the high-powered Oklahoma offense, with Garrett Gilbert out-gunning Landry Jones. Texas though, was not able to win the game, falling to the Sooners 28-20. This also happened in 2006, when Texas was outgained by more 100 yards in a 28-10 win.

Stop the Run:
In Mack Brown’s six wins over Oklahoma, the Texas defense has held the Sooners to a mere 55.8 yards per game on the ground. In only one of those competitions did Oklahoma get more than 100 yards with 124 in 2006. In Oklahoma wins, the Sooners average 194 yards per game rushing, being held under 100 yards only once in 2001. Oklahoma ran for more that 300 yards in the 2004 win, and eclipsed the 200-yard mark twice in 2000 and 2002.

Upset Alert:
The first meeting under Mack Brown was between two unranked teams, since then, at least one of the two has been ranked in the top 25 for every matchup. In 11 of those meetings the higher-ranked team won the game. The only time the lower-ranked team won the game was in 2008, when Colt McCoy led Texas to a 45-35 comeback win over Oklahoma.