The biggest game of the season is finally here, and it’s bringing both national and conference implications with it. Saturday will feature the 113th edition of the Red River Rivalry, and one of the biggest matchups between the schools in recent history. The winner will likely be the favorite to win the Big 12, while the loser may have to kiss any chance of making the College Football Playoff goodbye. The Longhorns need to do several things right if they want to beat the No. 7 Sooners for the first time since 2015. Here are your keys to the game:
Stay consistent through four quarters
This season has been a tale of two halves, both good and bad. In the Tulsa and Kansas State games, the team nearly gave away double-digit leads before hunkering down in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory in the
second half. Texas followed inconsistent first halves against both USC and TCU with flat-out dominant second halves, allowing only three points in the each of the final two quarters of both games. Closing against those ranked teams had many proclaiming that Texas was indeed back. Although Texas was able to get away with inconsistent performances in the last four wins, the Sooners will not allow the Longhorns to get away with it a fifth time. If the Longhorns want to win this game, they will need to put together a consistent, strong performance for four quarters.
Shut down Kyler Murray
Although this may seem like common sense, quarterback Kyler Murray deserves to be mentioned. Murray is fresh off a seven touchdown clinic against Baylor, in which Oklahoma led by 19, just as the Longhorns did against Kansas State. The difference? Murray led the Sooners to a 66-33 win. Murray has the arm to torch opposing defenses while also being agile enough to run the ball when necessary. He gives opposing team’s nightmares, and the Longhorns will have to be ready for the largest task of the season. Luckily for Texas, the defensive line came to life last week against the Wildcats, racking up three sacks, and a ton of pressure and tackles for loss. Senior Breckyn Hager finally recorded his first sack of the season, and senior Charles Omenihu sacked the quarterback twice. Another strong outing for Todd Orlando’s bunch will bode well for Texas.
Keep up the good work on special teams
Much like many games against highly ranked teams, special teams can play the largest role in completing an upset or coming up a bit short. Luckily for the Longhorns, special teams have been a strong point in recent weeks.
Against USC, freshman Caden Sterns blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown. Last week in Texas’ matchup with Kansas State, freshman D’Shawn Jamison returned a punt for a 90-yard touchdown. Freshman kicker Cameron Dicker has also made several 40-plus yard field goals and has yet to miss a single extra point. If the Longhorns want to upset the Sooners and really burst onto the national scene for the first time since the Mack Brown era, special teams will need to be solid in every facet of the game.