Texan Tuesday Football Talk: Texas-OU, kicker content, rivalry talk, and more

Nathan Han, Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporters

Welcome to the seventh edition of the Texan Tuesday Football Talk, where the Daily Texan football beat reporters Matthew Boncosky and Nathan Han discuss, of course, Texas football.

Nathan Han: We’ve talked so much about the offense, including running back Bijan Robinson, quarterback Casey Thompson and even the offensive line yesterday. But five games into the season and after the TCU win, the defense almost feels like more of an unknown than the offense. Does this Texas defense really have an identity? What do they do well and how high are you on this unit before facing Oklahoma?

Matthew Boncosky: I think the Texas defense under Pete Kwiatkowski has improved upon the standard set by previous year’s defenses, but to your point, the Texas defense doesn’t have an identity yet in my opinion.

Sure, there have been some really nice plays — safety B.J. Foster’s interception against Arkansas and cornerback Anthony Cook’s forced fumble against TCU come to mind — but there have been plenty of missed chances, too. The defensive backs gave up numerous deep plays against Texas Tech, and we remember how manhandled the line was against Arkansas.

Statistically speaking, the Longhorns’ defense is middle of the road, giving up 170 yards per game on the ground and 224.4 through the air. Going into the Red River Showdown, I like Oklahoma’s defense more, but if Texas can keep playing consistent, mistake-free defense and begin finding that elusive identity, the Longhorns can make some game changing plays on Saturday.

One thing that I want to talk about is the kicker matchup in this game. It’s not often that two high caliber kickers face off in such a high-stakes ballgame. Who do you think is better, Texas’ Cameron Dicker or Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic, and if the game were to come down to a field goal, who do you think makes the kick?

NH: Give me all the kicker content in the world. Purely based on their stats heading into the game, Brkic is the more accurate field goal kicker. The Oklahoma kicker is 48-56 on his field goal tries while Dicker is 52-71 in his attempts.

But if I’m taking one to take the game-winning field goal with the fate of the universe on the line, I want Dicker. His ability to stay calm under pressure and his arguably deeper field goal range gives him the edge if I’m picking between the two.

Let’s also not forget what happened the last time College GameDay was at the Texas-OU game in 2018, when Dicker nailed a 40-yard game-winning field goal.

Texas hasn’t fared too well since, including last year’s four-overtime loss. But this is a different Oklahoma squad than the high-octane Lincoln Riley offenses even if the No. 6 Sooners are still undefeated. What’s different about Oklahoma this year and how can Texas take advantage?

MB: We’ve been talking about this a bit throughout the season, but what sticks out to me about the Sooners is how beatable they are with quarterback Spencer Rattler’s struggles. In four games against FBS-level competition, Rattler has just five touchdown passes to four interceptions, a far cry from his early projections as a potential top pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

While he’s coming off a hot performance against Kansas State, Oklahoma almost lost that game as well. If the Texas defense can confuse Rattler enough, he will be prone to make some throws that he shouldn’t. The Longhorns’ secondary will have to capitalize on those opportunities to generate turnovers because if Rattler is allowed to get hot, he has all the skills of an elite quarterback and can torch an opposing defense.

Everybody in Texas and Oklahoma knows how big this rivalry is. What I want to ask you is, where does the Red River Rivalry rank among the best rivalries in college sports?

NH: I’m going to say Texas-OU is a Top 3 rivalry in all of college football. Ohio State-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn are the two other matchups that come to mind when you take into account both long-term history and recent classic showdowns.

But don’t come at me arguing for any Army vs. Navy or Harvard vs. Yale games. Those rivalries are lovely but don’t match up against just the heft of top college football programs with the same level of history facing off on a Saturday.

As far as what’s No. 1? I’m curious to see where you’re at between the top three rivalries I chose. How would you rank the Texas-OU, Ohio State-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn rivalries?

MB: I think the Iron Bowl takes the cake for most heated rivalry, though I do think Texas-OU is the most competitive of the three. It feels like every year, no one knows what’s going to happen at the Cotton Bowl, making it that much more unique than the others.

Getting down to predictions, while the last eight meetings have been decided by eight points or less, the previous 15 straight before that were decided by at least two scores. I think we finally see a return to that with Texas bringing home the Golden Hat, 34-20.

NH:  Fourteen points is a lot of points. I’ll continue to be the Debbie downer and take Oklahoma in a 37-30 win.